• Muunuu

What does Christmas or New Year mean to Mongolians?

As people exchange culture and traditions, one of the new traditions we picked up is the New Year or nowadays Christmas.

Until the middle of the 20th century, we never celebrated this holiday. We had Lunar Calendar with New Moon Holiday (White Moon) instead. With Soviet influence, the whole new idea was introduced with the Winter Grandpa, snow girls, Evergreen Tree, the gifts to children, delicious and well-varied food, and the circus shows. Until I was 15, I hadn't known who Santa Claus was. The Winter Grandpa, with long white-beard and long white-hair, wore white deel (traditional Mongolian dress like a costume), blue cap, a pair of eyeglasses, pointy boots and long stick rumored to have some magic. Winter Grandpa was a famous Mongolian actor and he was one and only Winter Grandpa since the 1960s (since we started celebrating). Same person, same voice, same gesture - really convincing we believed he was the one.

In 2010, the whole country had its heartbroken with his death and new Winter Grandpa was born - who suspiciously looks like the Santa. The old Winter Grandpa never visited our home, so we had to go to the circus to get our gifts. He didn't have time for every kid unlike Santa, so he gave gifts to the kids who had good marks on their lessons.