Just like for most countries, the first of January is a day off in Mongolia, giving opportunities for most people to celebrate between families and friends.
Funny fact: the 1st of January is considered a non working day in Mongolia. If this is during a weekend, it is then agreed to have a day off during the closest week, very nice! Recently, Mongolian youth tend to celebrate the day in night clubs and bars, that are more and more offering special events or dinners accordingly. However, like for a lot of things in Mongolia, traditions are still well in place! Here are some of the most common things to do in Mongolia...
1/ Opening Champagne when the countdown reaches 0, at the New Year's Eve
Celebrations start the 31th of December, with a dinner mostly served late in the evening. You can always find different sorts of salads, Mongolian buuz, some cakes, and Champagne to accompany these meals... A traditional speech of the Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj is seen live on TV, 5 minutes before the countdown starts. All achievements by the government of the year 2015 are listed and a toast of milk is raised by the President in his traditional Mongolian bowl, made of silver and copper. 10 seconds later, every families are opening the Champagne as they enter into the new year 2016.
In Mongolia, most parents have this tradition of decorating the New Year's tree for their children, resembling as the Christmas tree. The coming guests who are visiting the family the 1st of January then can hang some bills of Tugriks on the tree for the children. Of course, if several children are part of the family, then the money is shared equally. The tree became a symbol of prosperity and wealth for families that proudly display it at home, and a great way for the children to make some money during the winter!
Mongolian people are celebrating the New Year similarly as Russian people, to the point of sharing the features of Santa Claus, known under the name of Ded Moroz ("Grandfather frost"). Often coming with his granddaughter Snegurochka (snow maiden), Ded Moroz is depicted as a tall man with a great white beard and wearing a deep blue or white color long dress. His granddaughter is here to help offering the gifts to young children not for Christmas, but only for New Year.
If you happened to be in Ulan Bator during this period, you can attend a wonderful moment at the Genghis Khan's square, to see concerts and performances as well as a great firework, organized by the city. The firework is the main event of the night after the count down, when parents as well as children especially authorized to stay awake late in the night are delighted by the view.
5/ Children's gifts
Despite the bills hanged on to the tree, some gifts are often given to children for this period. Companies take care of providing gifts for the children of the employees, and associations are created to collect and distribute gifts to the children in need across Mongolia. About the companies, there is always a time before the actual new year comes, when colleagues gather up into rented places like restaurants to celebrate together. A fun time to celebrate performances of the personnel (people often receive medals - heritage of the soviet past - and certificates), to danse and eat great meals between teammates, with the traditional Ded Moroz and his granddaughter! That's the tradition and Horseback personnel couldn't avoid it! With a lot of pleasure and fun, we all gathered this year again to celebrate the New Year and our best guides, nomadic families, drivers and office workers in a very friendly environment. A lot of prizes were given, and a tombola cheered a lot of our people that night! It is a way for us to thank every individual of the team that contributes to the success of our company.
That's about it, now you know how to celebrate a New Year in Mongolia! If you had the chance to do so by the past, please let us know and your comments will be highly appreciated! Now let us wish you a very successful and happy New Year 2016, the Mongolian way:
SHINE JILIIN MEND KHURGEYE !