International holidays in the Republic of Kazakhstan: New Year, International Women's Day. National, state and professional holidays: Nauryz, Unity Day, Capital Day, Constitution Day, Fatherland Defender's Day, Kurban Bairam, Day of the First President.
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Kazakhstan is a large multinational country which is rich with its both old traditions and new ones acquired for the period of Independence. The Republic of Kazakhstan observes international holidays such as New Year, 8 March but it also has holidays specific only for this country such as Unity Day, Capital Day etc.
All the holidays of Kazakhstan may be divided into national, state and professional ones. The national holidays are held in honor of the events having a special historical importance for the development of independent Kazakhstan. Celebration of the national holidays is accompanied with holding of official events. Such holiday is considered Independence Day of Kazakhstan.
The state holidays are devoted to the events having social and political importance, they also include traditional Kazakh holidays. This category of the holidays includes New Year, 8 March, Nauryz, Unity Day, Capital Day, Constitution Day etc.
In addition to these holidays Kazakhstan has another type of holidays - professional ones celebrated by some categories of citizens:
* Fatherland Defender's Day - 7 May
* Political Repression Victims Memory Day -31 May
* The Republic of Kazakhstan National Symbols' Day - 4 June
* Police Day - 23 June
* Health Professionals' Day (third Sunday of June)
* Press, Television and Radio Day (last Sunday of June)
* Diplomatic Service Day - 2 July
* Tax Service Day - 6 July
* Metal-Maker's Day (third Sunday of July)
* Transport and Communication Workers' Day (first Sunday of August)
* Builders' Day - (second Sunday of August)
* Sports Day (third Sunday of August)
* Miner' Day (last Sunday of August)
* Knowledge Day - 1 September
The holidays of national and state nature are days off for the whole Kazakhstan population. These days Kazakhstan holds open-air merrymaking and official events. Various festive events and festive concerts with participation of both Kazakhstan and foreign stars are arranged for the country's population.
New Year's Day, which is on January 1, marks the start of the year in the Gregorian calendar. This holiday is celebrated in many countries worldwide.
Many people who were up on New Year's Eve to welcome the New Year and have a day off work on New Year's Day have the chance to sleep in and spend the remainder of the day either attending church services, visiting friends or relatives, going to the movies, staying in, or watching or playing sport. Feasting on traditional New Year's food is also a widespread practice but dishes vary across cultures.
International Women's Day
8th March is an international women's day in many countries of the world. Kazakhstan is not an exception in it. This day is a holiday and day off in Kazakhstan. Many organizations hold festive events devoted to women. Historically this day was celebrated as the Day of working women's solidarity in the struggle for the equality of rights and emancipation. In spite of the fact that this movement for emancipation originated in the West, nowadays this holiday has no such considerable importance there as it has in the post-Soviet countries. According to the United Nations Resolution the western countries celebrate this day as International Day of Struggle for Women's Rights and International Peace.
The holiday history begins at the end of the XIX century when women in the West began struggling for their rights and freedom. On 8 March 1908 a meeting with logos on women's equality was organized in New York. That day over 15,000 women were marching along the city demanding a reduced working day and payment conditions equal to those of men. One of the main conditions laid by women was giving them the right to vote.
But 8 March was not announced as an official holiday at once. On 19 March 1911 International Women's Day was celebrated in Germany, Austria, Denmark and Switzerland. From 1910 to 1920 this holiday was also celebrated in different days of March. After that the world popularity of the holiday in these countries declined except for the USSR. In 1966 this day was finally approve as a holiday and day off in the territory of the USSR.
Nowadays 8 March is observed in all post-Soviet countries including Kazakhstan. But at the modern stage this holiday does not imply any political context. It became a day of all women when love, beauty and kindness are extolled.
Nauryz is a very important holiday for Kazakhs, which marks the beginning of a new year. It is celebrated several days starting from 21st of March, the day of the spring equinox.
Nauryz means `new day', it is celebrated in the Great Steppes from ancient times.
Nauryz symbolizes goodness and wealth, happiness and love and a great friendship day, since this holiday is common for many nations.
During Nauryz celebrations, past offences are forgiven and forgotten and everybody makes a wish to leave all badness behind and bring renewal in the New Year.
Celebration of Nauryz
During the Nauryz holiday, large and small cities, villages become festival centres, feltyurts - traditional nomad houses are erected in city centres and rich dastarkhan (table) is laid down in each of them.
City squares get full of yurts, and many performances take place there. Here one can learn about the culture and lifestyle of nomads and find people wearing beautiful national clothes, listen to Kazakh songs and play of musical instruments, etc. In holiday exhibitions and fairs traditional gifts and souvenirs are sold.
Usually young people gather around Altybakan, which is a large hanging swing, with colourful decorations, where songs are sung, and traditional games are played.
During Nauryz holiday, many famous stars give concerts in cities and the holiday is completed by fireworks.
Dishes served during Nauryz
Nauryz kozhe is the most important of all meals during these days and a main symbol of Nauryz, since it is prepared specially for this day. Nauryz kozhe is special for its unique recipe.Traditionally, 7 different ingredients are added to Nauryz kozhe, which may vary, but basically these ingredients include: water, meat, salt, milk or yoghurt, one type of grains, chosen from rice, corn or wheat, and others. Seven ingredients symbolize seven virtues or qualities, such as joy, success, intelligence, health, wealth, agility and security.
During the celebration of Nauryz, the kozhe is offered to all guests in any city or village of Kazakhstan. Besides, other traditional Kazakh meals, such as beshbarmak, kuyrdak, baursak, and many types of meals made from milk (youghurt, kurt, cream, butter, cheese, etc) are also offered.
Between 1926-1988, Nauryz holiday was not officially celebrated in Kazakhstan (Kazakh Soviet Socialistic Republic those days)
In 2009 - 3 days of Nauryz holiday, starting 21th of March, were officially announced bank holidays in Kazakhstan.
September 30, 2009 - Nauryz was included in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the UNESCO; since then, 21 of March is announced International Day of Nowruz (Nauryz).
Kazakhstan is a multinational country, home for 150 nations and nationalities. To unite all these nationalities the country's government hold different events one of which is the celebration of Day of Unity. The official day of this holiday is 1 May. This day was celebrated as a holiday of workers' solidarity in the Soviet time. Today this is a holiday of unity of all peoples who live in the territory of Kazakhstan. This bright spring holiday is held in every city of Kazakhstan with parades and processions along the central streets of the cities and also with entertaining events.
Participation of different cultural centers which familiarize the people of Kazakhstan with the traditions of other nationalities is of great importance. Merry dances, sports competitions - all these make the event one of the brightest and most favorable holidays for the people of Kazakhstan.
Not only cultural centers but also company staffs, university students and representatives of different social organizations take part in the holiday. The main parade is usually organized along the central avenue of the capital - Bukhar Zhirau. The number of the people participating in parade sometimes reaches 25,000 people.
Probably the brightest moment of the holiday is an ethno-cultural exhibition. Different national dwellings of the representatives of all nations who live in Kazakhstan are installed in front of the Central Park of the city. These are peculiar mini-museums where you can see national clothes, traditional tableware, jewelry, but what is more important you can taste dishes of different national cuisine there.
In addition, this day the museums and libraries of Kazakhstan organize exhibitions dedicated to the holiday and peoples who live in Kazakhstan. This holiday does not only familiarize with traditions and culture of the nationalities that live in the country's territory but also it aims to consolidate people of all nations, living in Kazakhstan.
The Day of Victory over fascist Germany in World War II of 1941-45 is one of the holidays, most respected in the world. This holiday is a day off in many countries and in particular in Kazakhstan.
Victory Day is celebrated on 9 May because it was the day when the act of unconditional German surrender was signed at 01:00 Moscow time. This holiday was celebrated for the first time in 1945 when Moscow organized the Victory Parade in the Red Square. From this moment every year solemn military parades and marches are held on 9 May in all cities and states of post-Soviet countries.
This day military units and schools are marching along the cities' streets to military memorials or monuments to perished soldiers to lay flowers on the tombs of war heroes. This tradition reached our days.
People of Kazakhstan pay a great attention to this holiday since this date symbolizes the protection of the Motherland and people from enemies. Furthermore a lot of Kazakh people died defending their Motherland.
The Republic of Kazakhstan celebrates Victory Day two days - on 9 and 10 May. During the whole month charity events are held. On 9 May all the educational and cultural institutions of Kazakhstan hold numerous festive events dedicated to the memory of the war heroes. The country's government organizes meetings and talks with war veterans for the new generation to remember their history. Furthermore the government renders regular assistance to all veterans of the World War II and hold festive events for them.
Constitution Day of the Republic of Kazakhstan is one of the official holidays celebrated in Kazakhstan on 30 August. It was 30 August 1995 when the Kazakh people approved the new Constitution draft at the national referendum. This was one of the decisive moments on the way of building an independent state in Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan obtained its independence in 1991 but it was only in 1995 when the Basic Law of the Republic was finally approved. This holiday is one of the most important state holidays since it reflects the Kazakh people's will, their aspiration to approve the country as a democratic secular, constitutional and social state (Art.1 of the Constitution of Kazakhstan).
The Basic Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan was amended and modified twice: in 1998 and 2007. In 2007 the Constitution fixed a new form of a state system - presidential parliamentary.
By tradition on Constitution Day festivities, concerts and different exhibitions are held in all regions and cities of the Republic. You can watch parades and games in the rural and mountain regions. The main festivity and official events are held in the country's capital Astana. You can visit concert stages, where Kazakh and foreign artists give performances. Solemn events are held in many parks and in the evening you can enjoy watching beautiful fireworks.
The sacrifice holiday Kurban Bayram (or Eid al-Adha) is a part of a Muslim ceremony of pilgrimage to Mecca. The holiday is celebrated in Mine valley near Mecca in the 10th day of the 12th month of a Muslim lunar calendar Hijri and lasts 3-4 days.
Certainly, not all Muslims can make a hajj to Mecca, participate in the main holiday of Muslims and in a sacred place personally make a sacrifice, therefore canons of Islam order to Muslims to execute a culmination part of a ceremony not only in Mecca, but everywhere where there can be Muslims.
The mythology of this holiday goes back to a known biblical scene about attempt of bringing by patriarch Abraham (in Arabic Ibrahim) his son Isaak as a sacrifice to God. However, to the place of bible Isaak Muslim tradition puts Ismail, considering him as eldest son, and Isaak, on Muslim representations is Abraham's second son. For this devotion and virtue God rewarded Ibrahim, having replaced the sacrifice of Ismail with a lamb.
The celebration of the sacrifice day even if it doesn't occur in Mecca, begins with early morning. At daybreak Muslims go to a mosque to a morning prayer, but before it is necessary to make complete ablution, to put on new and tidy clothes, as possible anoint yourself with aromas. Before a prayer it is not recommended. At the end of the morning namaz (prayer) believers come back home, and then, at will, gather in groups on the street or in yards where sing chorus glorification to the Allah (takbir). Then they again go to a mosque or to a specially designated area where mullah or imam-hatyb preach a sermon.
At the end of the sermon Muslims usually go to the cemetery to pray for the dead. After returning from the cemetery, start the sacrificial ceremony as a sign of readiness to serve God. To sacrifice Muslims specially fatten the chosen animal.
The Muslim, having made sacrifice, shouldn't skimp on entertainment, it is necessary to feed the poor and hungry. The ritual meal -- sadaka -- is arranged also in order to avoid every possible misfortunes and diseases.
To relatives, friends and relatives during the holiday try to give gifts. In the following days after a holiday usually pay visits to to relatives and close acquaintances as visit in days of sacrifice holiday is considered blessed and desirable.
Day of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan
"Day of the First President of Kazakhstan is a day of unity, harmony and historic choice", said the official representative of the service of central communications Altai Abibullayev, speaking at a briefing in Astana. According to him, this day will be full of important events around the country.
National holidays, according to the Kazakh law, are days off, which are moved to the next business day, if fall on weekends. Therefore, Monday, the 2nd of December is a day off.
The holiday was proposed by a group of senators, who suggested that December 1, the day of election of the first president of Kazakhstan, should be made a national holiday.
Nursultan Nazarbayev, who turned 73 in July 2013, was first elected president of Kazakhstan, at that moment the Kazakh Social Soviet Republic which was part of the USSR, 20 year ago on April 24, 1990.
Since then Nursultan Nazarbayev has been elected president of the independent Kazakhstan a few times through direct elections - in 1991, 1999, 2005. In 1995 his term as president of Kazakhstan was extended by the national referendum. Nazarbayev collected 95.55% of votes during snap presidential elections in April 2011.
In 2007 the parliament amended the law to allow Nursultan Nazarbayev to run for president an unlimited number of times.
December 16 - Independence Day of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Independence Day is a public holiday in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan was the last of the former Soviet Republics to declare its independence from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on December 16, 1991. Even though the Supreme Council of the Kazakh SSR accepted the Declaration on State Sovereignty of the Kazakh SSR on October 25, 1990, it wasn't until December 16, 1991 that Kazakhstan adopted the constitutional law on the independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Besides, it is a day of memory of victims of December events of 1986.
Various festive events dedicated to the Independence Day are held in all cities and villages of Kazakhstan.
New Year's Eve
One of the most favorite holidays for the Kazakh people is considered New Year. This holiday was celebrated in the territory of Kazakhstan beginning from mid-XIX century when Russian migrants settled there.
Celebration of New Year traditionally begins from the night of 31 December. Cities and villages host open-air merrymaking, and the coming-in of New Year is celebrated with salute. One can meet Father Frost and Snow Maiden in the streets. The Kazakh call Father Frost as Ayaz Ata which is literally translated as "Father Frost".
Father Frost is a fairy personage of Slavonic folklore. He impersonates winter frosts in Slavonic mythology. The Father Frost's prototype was St. Nikolai (Santa Claus) and also more ancient minor divinities Zimnik and Korochun.
Father Frost comes in New Year and presents children with gifts brought in a bag behind his back. He is often represented in a dark-blue, silver or red fir coat embroidered with ornaments wearing a cap (not a hood) on his head with a long white beard and a stick in his hand. He moves by a three-horsed sledge or goes on foot. holiday kazakhstan nauryz bairam
One of the main attributes of New Year worldwide is a festive New Year tree. In many countries it is decorated for Christmas day and called a Christmas tree. The Kazakh also observe this tradition that is why there is a lovely New Year tree in every house.
Another New Year tradition is a festive tableful. To celebrate New Year, close friends and relatives gather at table to watch in. First they "see off" Old Year remembering everything that was good in it and at 00 hours 00 minutes the chime starts striking counting the last seconds of Old Year. With occurrence of 1 January everybody congratulates each other and drinks champagne which is considered a traditional drink for New Year. The Kazakh like holidays very much and that is why their tableful may last almost till morning.
On the New Year eve the head of state traditionally addresses to the people of Kazakhstan with congratulation. When clock is chiming everybody congratulates each other on New Year wishing new successes and victories in the coming year. 1 and 2 January are festive and non-work days in Kazakhstan.
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