Official Holidays in Kazakhstan
Holidays are a great way to take a break from work, meet family and friends, or just relax somewhere outside the city. In Kazakhstan, there are many holidays, including state, religious, and professional ones. However, only some of them are official, providing an additional 1-3 days off.
To help tourists plan their route, we'll provide some information on the official celebrations in Kazakhstan. During these holidays, many public places such as museums, theaters, and galleries either close or have reduced hours. However, some events take place in large city squares or central parks, providing an opportunity for tourists to experience them.
It's worth noting that holidays in Kazakhstan are celebrated regardless of religions and nationalities. Christians, Muslims, and Jews share Easter cakes, while Muslims bring treats during the holy month of Ramadan to neighbors who follow different faiths. During Nauryz, Kazakhs cook traditional dishes like nauryz-kozhe and baursaks, which are loved by Russians, Koreans, Germans, Turks, and others. Multiconfessionalism and multiculturalism in Kazakhstan have erased the border between religious and national holidays of different peoples.
Here are some of the official celebrations in Kazakhstan:
- The New Year, celebrated on the night of December 31 to January 1, is one of the most beloved holidays in Kazakhstan. January 1 and 2 are days off, and people decorate Christmas trees, cook traditional Russian salad, drink champagne, and stock up on tangerines. The tradition to eat tangerines came from the Soviet Union when citrus fruits were hard to find, and people could afford to buy them only for big celebrations. Remembering their childhood, now many people associate the smell of tangerines with the New Year. New Year is a family holiday during which people gather together at home. Some people prefer to celebrate in large squares with huge decorated Christmas trees, where they dance, sing songs, and enjoy amazing fireworks.
- Orthodox Christmas, celebrated on January 7th, involves decorating houses with wreaths, giving cards with good wishes, and fortune-telling. While fortune-telling isn't tolerated by the Russian Orthodox Church, it's a tradition that began in Russia's pagan times. At Christmas, there's also a tradition of caroling, where a group of people goes from house to house with well-wishing songs addressed to the owners. Unfortunately, this tradition is becoming obsolete in large cities, but it can still be found in villages.
- International Women's Day is the first spring holiday celebrated on March 8th. On this day, men give flowers and gifts to their female relatives or colleagues. Various concerts and events are held everywhere to celebrate the history of this holiday, which began at the end of the 19th century.
- Nauryz is a three-day celebration from March 21 to March 23, marking the new year according to the Turkic and Iranian calendar. It is a pagan-rooted festival but loved by many nationalities, symbolizing the arrival of spring, renewal, and new beginnings. People dress in bright clothes, often national costumes, and participate in concerts, dances, fairs, and other festivities. Traditional dishes like baursaks, nauryz-kozhe, plov, kuyrdak, besparmak, etc., are cooked and enjoyed. This holiday is widely celebrated everywhere so if you want to get to know Kazakh traditions, visit a real yurt (traditional dwelling), or try national dishes, go to big squares or parks which often host this kind of events.
- May 1 is celebrated as the Day of Unity of the People of Kazakhstan, which is an important holiday for the country. It highlights the cohesion, unity, and friendship of over 150 different ethnic groups living in Kazakhstan. On this day, people can be seen wearing costumes from various cultures, promoting mutual respect and solidarity, especially among children.
- May 7 is dedicated to Defender of the Fatherland Day, honoring valiant men ready to defend their country and people. It commemorates the creation of the national armed forces of the Republic of Kazakhstan on this day in 1992. Men receive presents from their mothers, wives, sisters, etc.
- Victory Day is celebrated on May 9 to honor all veterans who fought in World War II and achieved victory. This patriotic holiday is marked by concerts, laying of flowers at memorials, and expressing gratitude and respect towards those who served their country. In addition, military parade is usually held on Independence Square in Astana.
- July 6 is celebrated as Capital Day, commemorating the transfer of the capital from Almaty to Akmola (now Astana) on this day in 1996. The holiday signifies the development of the state and is marked by concerts, fireworks, and festivals.
- Constitution Day is celebrated on August 30 to commemorate the adoption of the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan on this day in 1995. It promotes the values of a legal, democratic, secular, and social state, and is celebrated with concerts, events, and other festivities.
- December 16 is celebrated as Independence Day in Kazakhstan, marking the country's declaration of independence on this day in 1991. It is a significant holiday celebrated with mass festivities, fireworks, and awards to outstanding personalities in different fields.
- The first day of Eid al-Adha is an important holiday for Muslims and is celebrated 70 days after Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of Hajj. The date changes every year since it is calculated based on the lunar calendar. Eid al-Adha is a holiday of sacrifice where a healthy ram, horse, or camel is sacrificed, and the meat is distributed to the poor and needy. This holiday symbolizes obedience to the Almighty.
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