Kyrgyz national holidays

National Holidays in Kyrgyzstan

Holidays in Kyrgyzstan include many foreign originated holidays, such as New Year and Women’s Day, that have remained from the Soviet Union. The Victory Day and Defenders of the Fatherland Day are also still celebrated. Other national holidays were introduced only after the independence of Kyrgyzstan like of course the Independence day together with the Islam related Orozo Ait and Kurban Ait (can be written Eid as well). The ethnic Russian minority follow the holidays of the Orthodox church.

Kyrgyz people are very flexible with holidays and most of the shops, restaurants and other services are open every day no matter the event. This also applies to tour guide services and transportation. New year is yet a time time when most want to focus on celebration.

Nooruz, 21st of March

Nooruz (or Nowruz) is a celebration on the spring equinox and marks the beginning of a new year. It is celebrated 21 of March originally as a pagan holiday as the equinox is considered a holy day among Zoroastrians. Their influence can still be seen as Nooruz is celebrated across Eurasia. Cities and villages organize big performances including concerts with traditional komuz players, national dances and of course nomad horse games like Kok boru. 

sumolok nooruz traditional dish

During the Nooruz a a wheat soup name “Sumolok” is prepared which is a symbol of Nooruz holiday. Sumolok is made from wheatgrass that has been cooked and seldom replaced with flour and oil. Traditionally it is cooked for 24 hours before Nooruz in huge pots in the streets. Usually, neighbors gather to prepare it together. 

There is also an old but popular tradition of throwing stones to the soup and making wishes while mixing the soup. Nooruz is a great time to visit Kyrgyzstan as the nature is starting to bloom and the hills and valleys are getting green in many Kyrgyz destinations.

Independence Day, 31st of August

31st of August in 1991, Soviet Republic of Kyrgyzstan declared its independency from the Soviet Union in order to form the Kyrgyz Republic. Every year from the early morning in Bishkek, festivities begin in the central Ala-Too Square with a theatrical performances, where creative teams of the Republic take part. 

Big horse games like Kok boru and At-chabysh are also organized in the Bishkek hippodrome, organized horse games like kok-boru and at-chabysh. The celebration of Independence Day of Kyrgyzstan ends with a salute.

New Year, 31st of December

In Kyrgyzstan, the New Year is one of the main holidays of the year. New Year is associated with a big feast, gifts, the expectation of a miracle, a joyful atmosphere and a carefree weekend. So locals celebrate it on a grand scale, the celebration starts from December 31 and lasts till the morning of 1st January. Usually, in Kyrgyzstan non working days last a week sometimes about a week so some continue celebrations almost a week. In the days of the Soviet Union, New Year became the most beloved holiday and remains for many so until now. It is best to celebrate New Year in the center of the capital. On a festive night, the entire city center will become a pedestrian zone. In Bishkek, mass celebrations will take place on the main square of Ala-Too, where the main Christmas tree of the country will be installed and the whole city center will be dressed  festively for the Forthcoming year.

Victory Day, 9th of May

victory day celebration in bishkek

Victory Day is another essential day for ex-soviet countries including Kyrgyzstan. In Kyrgyzstan, it is a day to honor the ancestors who paid a great price for victory in the WW2. An immortal regiment march is held yearly on Victory Day in Bishkek. 

The day starts with the speech of president and is followed by the march in memory of the victorious war veterans. Moreover, all the veterans are invited to the main square and congratulated by the participants. Most march participants wear military uniforms and carry the portrait of their ancestors who served in the war.

International Women's Day, 8th of March

The celebration of March 8 is an established tradition of giving women and gifts flowers and congratulating them. March 8 in Kyrgyzstan is a non-working red day of the calendar, it is mainly celebrated among the families, relatives, and friends. In the workplace normally male colleagues congratulate women colleagues and usually organize a small party. The same as in school, when boy give a small present to their classmate girls. According to tradition, an official congratulation of the head of state is published. The same is true in many CIS republics. At the same time, “the original meaning of this day – the fight against discrimination of the same sex — has long been forgotten,” and as a result, this day is celebrated “simply as a celebration of women.” In the last two years in Bishkek have been organized a march for quality, however the last finish with police detention.  

Orozo Ait and Kurban Ait

These are Muslim holidays are determined by the lunar calendar, so their date shifts every year. The main rite of the day is sacrificing the animal according to religion. 

Kurman Ait, like Orozo Ait as well, is widely celebrated in all mosques and prayers are organized in the Old Square of Bishkek. These events are celebrated by inviting guests or visiting friends or relatives’ houses. Celebratory dishes are prepared both from sacrificial meat and the table might have sweets and fruits but without alcohol.

Kyrgyz holiday celebration places

Page updated 17.1.2021

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