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Grass for Nowruz
Grass for Nowruz | © taksavar / Pixabay
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How to Celebrate Nowruz in Albania Like a Local

Picture of Francesca Masotti
Updated: 10 March 2018
Nowruz, the Persian New Year, is one of the many religious festivities celebrated in Albania. If you are wondering why, you should know that this small Balkan country is one of the most tolerant places in the world, so people of different religious can celebrate their holy days in harmony and peace.

Celebrated worldwide by Iranians, Nowruz, which literally means “new day,” is an important day that marks the beginning of spring. It usually occurs in the days around March 20-23, depending on the moment when the sun crosses the celestial equator and equalizes day and night. This year, in Albania, Nowruz will be held on March 22.

In foreign media, Albania is often considered a Muslim country, but this is not true: yes, there are Muslims, obviously, but also a significant number of Orthodox and Catholic believers. One of the most interesting religious orders in Albania is the Bektashi Sufi order, part of the Islamic mystic tradition but considered blasphemous in many Muslim countries.

The Bektashi Community of Albania celebrates Nowruz. If you are asking yourself who the Bektashi are, you should know that Bektashi order is a dervish order named after the 13th–century leader Haxhi Bektash Veliu and founded in the 15th century by Balım Sultan. The headquarters of this religious community is in Tirana, but you can find many tekke (a tekke or teq is a place used for teaching and for spiritual retreats as well) also in other parts of the Balkans, such as Macedonia, Greece, Kosovo, Bulgaria, and also in Turkey.

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A statue of Haxhi Bektash Veliu | © anaterate / Pixabay

The best thing you can do to celebrate Nowruz in Albania like a local is to head to the impressive tekke located in the northeast of Tirana, and visit it. The tekke is adorned with stunning marbled colored mosaics and also includes a lovely souvenir shop, perfect if you want to buy something typical.

Every year in March, the Bektashi Community in Albania celebrates Nowruz. It is an important moment that reunites all the main political and religious leaders of the country, who gather at the beautiful Bektashi World Sanctuary, situated in the outskirts of Tirana. This is an important event for all Albanians, not only for believers, and the day is considered a symbol of religious co-existence in Albania: this small Balkan country is is well known throughout the world for its religious tolerance and respect.

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Pastries and fruits to celebrate Nowruz | © Katzenfee50 / Pixabay