Horse and sleigh on frozen Lake Khovsgol
Mongolia Horse Sleigh Expedition – Khovsgol
December 5, 2018
Modern Mongolian Nomads – Meet Naraa and Bujee
January 7, 2019
Traditional Kazakh horse games

Nauryz Festival Mongolia

The Nauryz Festival is celebrated by Mongol Kazakhs throughout Mongolia.

The Kazakhs are Mongolia’s largest ethnic minority group with approximately 100,000 living in the provinces of western Mongolia.

 

Nauryz translates into ‘new day’ and March 21 is officially recognized as International Nauryz Day, though the holiday itself is celebrated between March 19 and 22, depending on calendars and vernal equinox calculations. Nauryz is considered the first day of the spring equinox and is a celebration not only about spring but about renewal as well. Nauryz is not only a state holiday for Mongol Kazakhs in Mongolia, but it is also celebrated in all countries of Central Asia, as well as Georgia, India, Iran, China, Turkey and others. In 2016, Nauryz was inscribed in UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Hospitality is a key ingredient in the Mongol Kazakh culture and especially during Nauryz when it is considered that the more generous the celebration of Nauryz, the happier the year will be. An important tradition practised during this time is the gathering around ‘the table’ to enjoy a special meal with loved ones. The table is decorated with objects that symbolise purity, brightness, livelihood and wealth.

Nauryz Festival Meal Mongolia

Nauryz 2023. Our guests together with members of our team hosted by our Kazakh hosts Jako and Baurjan and their extended families.

Kazakh families feast on Nauryz koje – a soup specially prepared for Nauryz. Kazakhs believe that you should eat as much of this soup as possible for your year to be prosperous. It is delicious,  a nutritional-rich soup that is cooked from seven ingredients: meat, water, flour, butter, millet (could be replaced with rice or corn), salt and milk. Each component of the dish symbolizes one of the seven life beginnings: growth, luck, happiness, wealth, health, wisdom and auspiciousness.

The traditional table of the Nauryz Festival in Mongolia

The Nauryz Festival is often described by Kazakhs as ‘Ulystin uly kuni’ which means ‘the great day of the community.’ During Nauryz people dress up, visit close family members and friends – particularly the elderly and neighbours – and gifts are exchanged, especially for children. There are also street performances of music and dance and traditional sports. These practices support cultural diversity and tolerance and contribute to building community solidarity and peace. They are transmitted from older to younger generations through observation and participation.

(In western Mongolia a colourful community parade is held in Ulgii – the provincial capital of Bayan Ulgii Aimag – as well informal eagle festivals taking place in local rural communities.)

Community parade during the Nauryz Festival In Mongolia

And what you might not know is that Nauryz is considered one of the oldest festivals on earth – having been celebrated for potentially over 5000 years. For the Mongol Kazakhs in Mongolia, the Nauryz Festival is now a  holiday of spring, work and unity that has naturally become a part of modern life whilst preserving traditions.

Why not learn more about the range of Mongolia festivals or join us on our Nauryz experience where we celebrate the Nauryz Festival with the Mongol Kazakh families we work in long-term local community partnerships with in western Mongolia? We look forward to celebrating with you. Наурыз құтты болсын!

Jess @ Eternal Landscapes

Jessica Brooks
Jessica Brooks
I'm Jess Brooks, the founder of Eternal Landscapes Mongolia and the voice behind EL's blog posts. For more than a decade, since 2006, I've been based in Mongolia, working closely with my beloved Mongolian team to advocate for a tourism approach that brings about positive change.. What sets our blog apart is our deep understanding of Mongolia—our home. Unlike content from influencers or creators, our posts prioritise authenticity and firsthand knowledge as guiding principles.
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