The Kazakh Christmas
By Alan Jambulatov
A popularised holiday, celebrated globally, Christmas, beloved and known by all. Based on the Biblical story of the Birth of Christ, this tale has gone, in a sense, “viral;” however, as mainstream as Christmas has become, there are countries that still abstain from the now-traditional break. Instead, celebrating New Year, for instance, in Kazakhstan.
New Year, a time for an attempted change and planning the year ahead, but in Kazakhstan it’s so much more. “So that’s where all the taxpayer’s money goes—into the wind,” an old man grumbled with dismay while referring to the illustrious fireworks put on by the extravagant Kazakh government. Kazakhs and Russians alike take this opportunity of a holiday to feast, give gifts—via an interpreted version of Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus—and spend time with family. Mouth-watering cuisine includes a platter overflowing with meat, potatoes, dough, and drenched in onion sauce, locals indulge in Beshparmak—a traditional delicacy. Created by nomads, the citizens of Kazakhstan fill their plates with this customary dish placed in the centre of the table to be shared by one and all. Yearly, families gather to watch the news and simply spend time together; they say toasts to each other and wish blessings before parting ways into the new year.
This holiday is steeped in tradition, with family at its core. No matter the price, no matter the place, Kazakhs will go to lengths to reach their loved ones. It’s a time to press pause on feuds and be, well, merry. A time for Christmas—New Year—cheer.