The first day of the ancient holiday of Novruz falls on the spring equinox, 20 or 21 March, the day when the hours of daylight approximately equal those of darkness. The holiday heralds the arrival of spring and marks the start of a new year.
The four Tuesdays before Novruz are named after the four elements: water, fire, wind and earth. According to legend, God created man from earth and water, gave him warmth and ordered the wind to wake him up. These Tuesdays are, therefore, considered sacred.
Each Chershenbe (Tuesday) has its own history and tradition.
According to legend, the four winds that regularly blow across Azerbaijan, and especially Baku, sleep underground but come together on Wind Tuesday to wake up the earth and fan the fires ready for spring. The four winds are the Khazri, a cold north wind that blows in across the Caspian, the Gilavar, a mild, southern wind, and the White Wind and Black Wind, both hot, dry summer winds.
Wind Tuesday is the time to spring clean your house and give soft furnishings and bedding a good airing.
On all four Tuesdays and on the eve of Novruz it's traditional to light bonfires and jump over them. The fires are purifying and take away all your troubles before the start of the new year. They are also a way of disposing of household rubbish cleared out during the spring clean.
On Wind Tuesday it is traditional to eat pilaf, especially milk pilaf (südlü plov).
It is also the time to stock up on nuts and dried fruit ready to start cooking the traditional Novruz food, such as sweet nut pies, baklava and gogal.