New Year in Kazakhstan

New Year celebration in Kazakhstan

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.

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.