How Mongolian people celebrate Christmas?
Christmas in Mongolia
You may wonder that Mongolian people celebrate Christmas as it is officially a Buddhist nation. But, there were 41,117 Christians, according to the 2010 National Census (age of 15 and older) or 2.1% of total population. Christian churches in Mongolia have a service or celebratory concert in the evening.
Even Mongolians do not celebrate Christmas, they celebrate New Year with a “New Year’s Tree” (Christmas trees) and have lots of parties. There is no recognition of Christ.
Like for most countries, the first day of New Year is a day off in Mongolia, giving opportunities for most people to celebrate between families and friends. If the January 01 is during a weekend, it is then agreed to have a day off during the closest week!
Mongolians Celebrate the New Year
Mongolians celebrate the New Year in night clubs and bars, which are more and more offering special events or dinners accordingly or at home with their families, friends or colleagues. Mongolians celebrate the New Year the whole week before December 31. Most Mongolians do not celebrate Christmas but “Grandpa of Winter” usually makes an appearance at New Year parties, and Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, are up everywhere.
At big parties there is always some kind of program, a lot of awards are given out, a lot of singing and dancing. “Grandpa of Winter” makes an appearance at parties and distributes gifts.
New Year’s parties do not happen on New Year’s Eve, December 31. They all happen before December 31. On the thirty-first, Mongolians celebrate the New Year with their families, at home.
Some Interesting Facts about New Year in Mongolia
1. First celebration of New Year in Mongolia
Since 1930’s when Russian or Soviet and Western Culture started to became familiar to our country, Mongolians started to celebrate New Year. It is noted that Mongolian famous poet and writer D.Natsagdorj celebrated New Year with his fellows in 1931, first time in Mongolia.
2. Mongolian Santa Claus
Mongolians have their own “Santa Claus”, which is called “Grandpa of Winter”/ Өвлийн өвгөн. Mongolian first “Grandpa of Winter”, in 1947. The “Grandpa of Winter” comes every year, in December, with gifts for children and outstanding workers and students of the Year.
3. Most famous New Year Song
The most known Mongolian song of New Year is “The Song of New Year Tree Festival” was composed in 1959. Mongolians still love this song. You can hear this song everywhere in Mongolia, in December.
4. Opening Champagne/ sparkling wine when the countdown, the New Year’s Eve
Celebrations start the December 31, with a dinner mostly served late in the evening. You can always find different sorts of salads, Mongolian steamed dumplings/ buuz, some cakes, and Champagne to accompany these meals… A traditional speech of the Mongolian President is seen live on TV, 5 minutes before the countdown starts. All achievements by the government of the year are listed and a toast of milk (in the past a few years) is raised by the President in his traditional Mongolian bowl, made of silver and copper. But, this year, a new President was elected, we are not sure if he follows the tradition toast of milk, as last President used to or with Champagne. 10 seconds later, every families are opening the Champagne as they enter into the New Year.
5. New Year tree, decorated with Tugriks/ Mongolian currency
In Mongolia, most parents have this tradition of decorating the New Year‘s tree for their children, resembling as the Christmas tree. The guests who are visiting the family the January 01, 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!
6. Firework at the main square of Ulaanbaatar
If you have a chance to be in Ulan Bator during this period, you can experience a wonderful moment at the Sukhbaatar square, to see concerts and performances as well as a great firework, organized by the Administration of City Council. The firework is the main event of the night after the count down.
7. 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.
If you are in Mongolia during the New Near days you can celebrate and experience Christmas in a different way. Cheers to a New Year and Merry Christmas!
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