When is Nauryz Holiday?
Nauryz is the most important holiday in the Kazakh calendar.
Nauryz means ‘new day’, it is celebrated over several days from 21 March and marks Persian New Year which begins on the Vernal Equinox. The month of March is known as Nauryz in Kazakhstan.
Since 2009, there have been officially three days of bank holiday for Nauryz beginning on 21 March. If the holiday falls over a weekend, the holiday will be extended to the following weekdays.
This is a very ancient holiday, known to have been celebrated for over five thousand years by different cultures in central Asia. Certainly noting that the days were starting to get longer than nights on the exposed plains of the steppes must have come as welcome relief to the tribes living there after a harsh winter.
As with other Spring festivals around the world traditional customs focus on the idea of renewal, rebirth and a chance to start again. Acts such as house cleaning, settling debts and forgiving past offences by others are common.
Nauryz celebrations today are a mixture of old and new, ranging from preparing rich food to rock concerts. In fact, these days it seems that anything goes in marking Nauryz, with the prevailing rule being the more festive, the better.
Two key traditional elements of Nauryz are feasting, starting with a tasty yogurt-like dish known as Nauryz kozhe, and the erecting of yurts, or traditional nomad homes.
Nauryz kozhe is the most important dish related to the festival and a main symbol of Nauryz. A yogurt like dish, Nauryz kozhe is traditionally made with seven different ingredients, which can vary but generally include water, meat, salt, milk, one type of grain (rice, corn or wheat) and two other ingredients. These seven ingredients symbolize the seven virtues of joy, success, intelligence, health, wealth, agility and security.
During Nauryz, in urban areas, traditional felt nomad dwellings called Yurts will be erected. These yurts act as focal points for people to find out more about the culture and lifestyle of the traditional nomads through Kazakh songs, dance and national clothing.
More modern festivities such as firework displays and music concerts will also take place during Nauryz.
In 1926 became part of the Soviet Union and celebrating Nauryz was banned as the regime did not tolerate any reference to traditional or ethic heritage as it was seen to detract from the formation of a pure Marxist state, and a Soviet ethnicity.
It was only 1988, shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union that Nauryz became a holiday once more, and was officially recognised by a presidential decree on 15 March 1991. Since then it has regained its position as the most important and popular festival in Kazakhstan.
On 30 September, 2009, Nauryz (Novruz) was included into UNESCO’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. On 23 February 2010, the United Nations declared March 21 the International Day of Nauryz (Novruz) .