Nauryz, the Season of Rebirth and Freshstarts
Mar 20. MFA
Nauryz is a truly nationwide holiday in Kazakhstan due to its long history, which goes back to ancient times, and the absence of a religious background. Originally it was celebrated on the day of spring equinox symbolising the renewed life.
The celebration of the coming of spring is one of the most beautiful and awaited feasts in Kazakhstan. People associate Nauryz with the sun, the time when families and friend all come together at one dastrakhan (a food-laden table) where among the dishes, of course, are baursaks (fried unsweetened doughnuts) and Nauryz-kozhe (a drink made of seven ingredients) are served. These are the usual Nauryz expectations of people familiar with the holiday and its origins.
With growing exposure of Kazakhstan to the world, Astana as the capital attracts more foreigners. It was interesting to find out about expectations and associations of Nauryz that expats living in Astana have. Six foreigners, for most of whom it is the first experience of the Nauryz celebration, were asked about the festival and three words in their opinion that can describe Nauryz as well as their plans for the holidays.
For Elinor Kurton, who is from the UK, Nauryz is associated with rebirth, freshstarts and happiness. “Since we do not have this feast back home I do not have any particular plan to spend it,” she said.
Terrie Lee from the United States associates Nauryz with “a celebration of spring and joy: children smiling, coming with flowers, sharing”. “For me Nauryz is happinness, warmth and laughter,” Lee said.
Camille Chu Van will explore the beauties of South Kazakhstan and Almaty with her friends during the holidays. “I associate Nauryz with Kazakh traditions and spring,” Chu Van said.
“For me Nauryz is about rebirth, spring and warmth,’ Laurence Caudine from France said. “I will tell my friends back in France about Kazakh traditions and special periods of celebration you have,” she said.
Funda Shaimardan from Turkey and Naoufal Mati from France both decided to stay in Astana and take part in traditional celebrations. “I plan to see how Kazakh people traditionally celebrate Nauryz. Probably I will be on the streets, watching entertainment shows and traditional activities. I guess there are going to be many,” Shaimardan said.
“I associate Nauryz with snowmelting, spring and tradition,” she added.
Mati also has exciting plans: “I will be visiting my friends, who invited me to join them at celebrations. I want to witness events organised across the city of Astana during this feast.” For him Nauryz means “spring, tradition and Asia”.
Whilst guests of Astana still have to take time to develop their own sense of Nauryz, both foreigners and locals will enjoy the five days-off filled with spectacular shows and traditional celebrations.