Nauryz. About Kazakhstan culture and national traditions. Some information.
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Nauryz is one of the oldest holidays on Earth. This holiday of spring and the renewed life of the Earth has been celebrated for over five thousand years by many cultures of the Middle and Central Asia and, according to some sources, by eastern Slavs as well.
This holiday has been celebrated on 22 March, the day of the spring equinox. That's why the Kazakhs call the month of March Nauryz. It was celebrated as the day of the renewed life which comes with the spring. It was the day when the first spring thunder strikes, buds are swelling on the trees and vegetation grows wildly. Nauryz as a non-religious celebration of the spring and renewal is closely linked to some other Kazakh holidays, such as a "farewell to winter" festival. Boys born on this day would be called Nauryzbai or Nauryzbek, and girls Nauryz or Nauryzgul. It was seen as a good omen if it was snowing on that day.
A great deal of foodis prepared during these days. It symbolizes prosperity and wealth in the coming year. Each family would lay a dastarkhan (festive table). People would sit down at the table at noon. Mullah would read prayers dedicated to ancestors before and after the meal. At the end of the meal, the oldest men among them would give a blessing so that prosperity would never leave the family.
The celebration always included mass games, traditional horse races and other competitions. The most famous and favourite were the games of "Aikysh-uishysh" (towards each other) and "Audaryspek" where dzhigits (skillful horsemen) had to pull each other down from their saddles. Sport competitions were popular and both boys and girls could take part in them. A girl would invite a dzhigit to have a go and compete with her on one condition: if he wins, he would have the right to marry her, and if she wins he would have to obey her and execute her every desire.
Since then, Nauryz has been widely celebrated across the whole country. Of course, the modern festival is essentially different from the old. It is not only about staged shows, ornate yurts, and delicious Nauryz-kozhe. It is also about charitable events, folk sporting games, tending of plants, planting trees, cleaning of parks, streets and squares.
Nowadays, it has become a truly national holiday of spring, work and unity. It is dear to all the peoples living in the multinational Kazakhstan. The ancient holiday of Nauryz has naturally become a part of the modern life, preserving the old traditions.