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!

how mongolian celebrate christmas

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.

holidays in mongolia

 6 Reasons Christmas is different in Mongolia

For those who wait Christmas all year round, spending Christmas far from home and experiencing completely different holiday from what you used to do, will be definitely adventurous and must have one- lifetime memory.  Mongolians have adopted Russian New Year and recently adding Christmas and celebrating it its own special way. Christmas is considered like religion holiday or more of the commercial event for the young generation to celebrate for fun. Here are 6 reasons why Christmas is different in Mongolia. 
 

1. Christmas Turkey & Mongolian Dumpling 

Christmas can’t be without Turkey and ham, but if you are in Mongolia during Christmas or December, Mongolian traditional dumpling ‘Buuz’ will be served as the main dish with several kinds of salads. 

2. Christmas is not an official holiday

Unlike the western style of Christmas day, you will see that all the schools, businesses and stores are open on this day just like as they would on any other day of the year. For whom had grown up with memories of a traditional Christmas, it will be a quite odd experience. 
 

3. Christmas Presents only for children 

In Mongolia, you don’t have to prepare Christmas gifts for others. Most Mongolians only buy gifts for kids and recent years many youths, companies, and a group of social media groups arrange helping and surprising volunteer events for poor family kids, orphan centers and special care needed families during Christmas day or in December. Many people choose warm clothes’, children’s books and more healthy things for their kids’ gifts instead of sweets and candies.  However if you are invited to someone’s home in December, don’t forget to bring some cake and champagne which is considered the most accurate and perfect holiday gifts.
 

4. Decorated cake & homemade pie

Every family around Mongolia enjoy special New Year cake and eating and sharing the cake together has already become a family tradition in Mongolia. Bakeries like Jur Ur, Wendy, Mon and other bakeries around the country work for busy selling cakes decorated with Christmas tree, Santa and new- year greeting words. It is unlike usual homemade pies of America. 
 

5. Only Christians celebrate Christmas Eve 

Only places you feel the true meaning of this holiday and can hear Christmas gospel songs translated into Mongolian is maybe Christian churches. You will meet these churches in your neighborhood because there are almost more than 200 churches in Ulaanbaatar city.

6. Santa Clause& Mongol Winter Grandpa 

mongolian santa clause christmas holidays in mongolia

 

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.

 

Some Interesting facts about the celebration in Mongolia 

1. The first celebration of New Year in Mongolia

Since the 1930’s when Russian or Soviet and Western Culture started to became familiar with our country, Mongolians started to celebrate the New Year. It is noted that Mongolian famous poet and writer D.Natsagdorj celebrated New Year with his fellows in 1931, the first time in Mongolia.

2. 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.  

3. 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 traditional toast of milk, as last President used to or with Champagne. 10 seconds later, every family is opening the Champagne as they enter into the New Year.

4. 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!

5. Firework at the main square of Ulaanbaatar

If you have a chance to be in Ulaanbaatar 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.

 

If you are planning to travel Mongolia in December or near around Christmas time in our beautiful country, we will always be glad to be your Christmas guide in Mongolia.

December just makes Mongolians’ happy and it is the most wonderful time of the year. Seeing the streets and malls which is already festooned with holiday finery makes more cheerful moods than normal.

May your Christmas Day be filled with love, laugh and beautiful memories

From Ayan Travel to all of you, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

 

 

 

 

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