Turkmenistan is a country at the crossroads of east and west. Most of the major towns and cities that exist today were once trading posts on the old Silk Road, the route which joined the riches of the orient to the lucrative markets in the west. This cultural mix can be seen in the festivals that are celebrated in the country today, such as the ever important Eid al-Fitr, as Muslim festival that is observed by about 90 percent of the population. Turkmenistanis are a proud people and evidence of this can be seen in the Independence Day and Memorial Day celebrations. For something quirky, look to the Melon Day festival.
Held on March 21, this festival takes place on the spring equinox. It is a public holiday in Turkmenistan and the first day in the new year of the Iranian calendar; for this reason, it is sometimes referred to as Persian New Year. The festival is a celebration of the new and what is to come of the year ahead, while reflecting on the old is also part of the day. Typical meals are cooked and shared with families. Later, communities get together for street carnivals.