One of the architectural gem of Kazakhstan is its capital Astana city. On 6 July 1994 Supreme Council of Kazakhstan passed a resolution to move the Kazakh capital from Alma-Ata to Akmola (Tselinograd). On 6 May 1998 by the Kazakh President order Akmola city was re-named to Astana and on 10 June 1998 Astana was presented to the world community as a new capital of Kazakhstan. Capital Day in Astana is celebrated from the moment when the city acquired the status of a capital in 1998. Initially this holiday was observed at city level on 10 June. From the moment when the city acquired the status of a capital its massive construction resulted in making Astana one of the most beautiful modern cities in Central Asia. Beginning form 1996 the population in Astana rose from 270, 000 to 700,000. In several years the population will pass 1 million people. Massive construction is still underway in the city. Among the most famous modern architectural masterpieces are the building of the Ministry of Transport and Communication, towers of Kazakhstan Temir Joly and Northern Lights, business city, Astana tower, International Airport building. Not only Kazakh architects but also attracted foreign specialists took part in the construction of the city. The development of the city’s architectural plan took into account the main idea of a new Eurasian look city. In the opinion of the Kazakhstan people modern Astana is a city which contains the elements both of the East and West. Among the architects who participated in the construction of the city are such world’s celebrities as Kise Kurokawa and Norman Foster. Thus a well-known British architect is an author of one of the most unique buildings in Astana – The Peace and Consent Palace. On 18 July 2008 the Kazakhstan Parliament passed the law project «On Amendments to the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On Holidays in the Republic of Kazakhstan” which provides for adoption of a new state holiday “Capital City Day – 6 July”. This attention to Astana was caused by the fact that Astana is a symbol of the achievements of the Republic of Kazakhstan for the years of its independence. In 1999 by UNESCO decision Astana got the title of “City of Peace”. Furthermore the city is a free economic zone which fact contributes much to the economic development of the city.
Constitution Day of the Republic of Kazakhstan is one of the official holidays celebrated in Kazakhstan on 30 August. It was 30 August 1995 when the Kazakh people approved the new Constitution draft at the national referendum. This was one of the decisive moments on the way of building an independent state in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan obtained its independence in 1991 but it was only in 1995 when the Basic Law of the Republic was finally approved. This holiday is one of the most important state holidays since it reflects the Kazakh people’s will, their aspiration to approve the country as a democratic secular, constitutional and social state (Art.1 of the Constitution of Kazakhstan). The Basic Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan was amended and modified twice: in 1998 and 2007. In 2007 the Constitution fixed a new form of a state system – presidential parliamentary. By tradition on Constitution Day festivities, concerts and different exhibitions are held in all regions and cities of the Republic. You can watch parades and games in the rural and mountain regions. The main festivity and official events are held in the country’s capital Astana. You can visit concert stages, where Kazakh and foreign artists give performances. Solemn events are held in many parks and in the evening you can enjoy watching beautiful fireworks.
Kazakhstan is a multinational country, inhabited by more than 150 nations and nationalities. To unite these peoples, the government of the country conducts various events, one of which is the celebration of the Day of Unity of the people of Kazakhstan. The official day of the holiday is May 1. In Soviet times, this day celebrated the holiday of solidarity of all working people. Today is a holiday of unity of all peoples living on the territory of Kazakhstan. This bright spring holiday is held in every city of Kazakhstan, where parades and processions are held along the central streets of cities, as well as numerous entertainment events. Of great importance is the fact that various cultural centers participate in the festival in order to acquaint the people of Kazakhstan with the traditions of other peoples. Funny dances, sports competitions – all this makes the event one of the brightest and favorite holidays for the people of Kazakhstan. Participation in the holiday is accepted not only by cultural centers, but also by work collectives, university students, representatives of various public associations. The main festive procession usually takes place along the central avenue of the capital – Bukhar Girau. The number of participants in the march sometimes reaches 25 thousand people. Perhaps the most striking moment of the holiday is an ethno-cultural exhibition. Before the Central Park of Culture and Leisure, national dwellings of representatives of all nations and nationalities living in Kazakhstan are established. This is a kind of mini-museum, where you can find clothes, traditional utensils, ornaments that are characteristic of one or another nationality, but most importantly you can taste dishes of different national cuisine. In addition, on this day museums and libraries of Kazakhstan organize exhibitions dedicated to the holiday and to the people living in Kazakhstan. This holiday not only acquaints the people of Kazakhstan with the traditions and culture of other nationalities living on the territory of the country, it is called to consolidate the nation into a single whole.
In Kazakhstan spring arrives fully on 21 March – on the special day when Navruz is celebrated, signifying not only the spring equinox but also renewal of nature. Navruz in Kazakhstan symbolizes fertility, friendship and love. On this special day people dress up, visit close people and keep wishing well. For eastern nations, Navruz is the same as New Year, as both holidays are messengers of a new life. Even the name of the holiday “Navruz” is translated from Farsi as “new day”. Navruz is a holiday that was celebrated before Islam; it was a remnant of memory form pagan ancestors when they honored natural cults. So, for example, in India they celebrate Lori – the last day of cold winter, in Egypt they call the beginning of spring as Jam en-Nessim, in Israel they celebrate Tu bi-shvat that is the season of rain, in Iceland there is Sumarsdag – day of arrival of summer. Navruz has no relation to religion, on this day people all around Kazakhstan sing and dance, and take part in national games and merrymaking. On Navruz it is a must to have a traditional festive dish navruz-koje on the table. Kazakhs believe that one should eat much of this dish on Navruz, then your year will be in prosperity. Navruz-koje is a nutritional rich soup that is cooked from 7 ingredients: meat, water, flour, butter, millet (could be replaced with rice or corn), salt and milk. Each component of the dish symbolizes one of the seven life beginnings: growth, luck, happiness, wealth, health, wisdom and sky auspices. Navruz is full of symbols. So, the number 7 has its special meaning in celebrating Navruz – seven ingredients in nauryz-koje, that is afterwards poured into seven bowls and is laid in front of wise old men-aksakals. Each person should invite seven guests and should visit other seven houses. On Navruz they drink kumys – dairy product made of horse milk. Traditionally on this day they congratulate by saying “Koktem tudi!” Also there are many contests of wit-poets held on this holiday, that are called “akins” in Kazakhstan; the feast cannot be without national contests among which is national wrestling “kazaksha-gures”, logic game called “toguz kumalak” and of course horse games “kyz-kuu” and “bayga”. Theatrical staged performances are played in the streets. Another old Navruz tradition is “altybakan”, where girls and boys gather together to socialize and ride on the swings. Navruz is not only a state holiday in Kazakhstan that is celebrated for three days, but also acknowledged by UN as an International Holiday. Navruz is celebrated in all countries of Central Asia, as well as Georgia, India, Iran, China, Turkey and others.
One of the most favorite holidays for the Kazakh people is considered New Year. This holiday was celebrated in the territory of Kazakhstan beginning from mid-XIX century when Russian migrants settled there. Celebration of New Year traditionally begins from the night of 31 December. Cities and villages host open-air merrymaking, and the coming-in of New Year is celebrated with salute. One can meet Father Frost and Snow Maiden in the streets. The Kazakh call Father Frost as Ayaz Ata which is literally translated as “Father Frost”. Father Frost is a fairy personage of Slavonic folklore. He impersonates winter frosts in Slavonic mythology. The Father Frost’s prototype was St. Nikolai (Santa Claus) and also more ancient minor divinities Zimnik and Korochun. Father Frost comes in New Year and presents children with gifts brought in a bag behind his back. He is often represented in a dark-blue, silver or red fir coat embroidered with ornaments wearing a cap (not a hood) on his head with a long white beard and a stick in his hand. He moves by a three-horsed sledge or goes on foot. One of the main attributes of New Year worldwide is a festive New Year tree. In many countries it is decorated for Christmas day and called a Christmas tree. The Kazakh also observe this tradition that is why there is a lovely New Year tree in every house. Another New Year tradition is a festive tableful. To celebrate New Year, close friends and relatives gather at table to watch in. First they “see off” Old Year remembering everything that was good in it and at 00 hours 00 minutes the chime starts striking counting the last seconds of Old Year. With occurrence of 1 January everybody congratulates each other and drinks champagne which is considered a traditional drink for New Year. The Kazakh like holidays very much and that is why their tableful may last almost till morning. On the New Year eve the head of state traditionally addresses to the people of Kazakhstan with congratulation. When clock is chiming everybody congratulates each other on New Year wishing new successes and victories in the coming year. 1 and 2 January are festive and non-work days in Kazakhstan.
The Day of Victory over fascist Germany in World War II of 1941-45 is one of the holidays, most respected in the world. This holiday is a day off in many countries and in particular in Kazakhstan. Victory Day is celebrated on 9 May because it was the day when the act of unconditional German surrender was signed at 01:00 Moscow time. This holiday was celebrated for the first time in 1945 when Moscow organized the Victory Parade in the Red Square. From this moment every year solemn military parades and marches are held on 9 May in all cities and states of post-Soviet countries. Military honour memorialThis day military units and schools are marching along the cities’ streets to military memorials or monuments to perished soldiers to lay flowers on the tombs of war heroes. This tradition reached our days. People of Kazakhstan pay a great attention to this holiday since this date symbolizes the protection of the Motherland and people from enemies. Furthermore a lot of Kazakh people died defending their Motherland. The Republic of Kazakhstan celebrates Victory Day two days – on 9 and 10 May. During the whole month charity events are held. On 9 May all the educational and cultural institutions of Kazakhstan hold numerous festive events dedicated to the memory of the war heroes. The country’s government organizes meetings and talks with war veterans for the new generation to remember their history. Furthermore the government renders regular assistance to all veterans of the World War II and hold festive events for them.
8th March is an international women’s day in many countries of the world. Kazakhstan is not an exception in it. This day is a holiday and day off in Kazakhstan. Many organizations hold festive events devoted to women. Historically this day was celebrated as the Day of working women’s solidarity in the struggle for the equality of rights and emancipation. In spite of the fact that this movement for emancipation originated in the West, nowadays this holiday has no such considerable importance there as it has in the post-Soviet countries. According to the United Nations Resolution the western countries celebrate this day as International Day of Struggle for Women’s Rights and International Peace. The holiday history begins at the end of the XIX century when women in the West began struggling for their rights and freedom. On 8 March 1908 a meeting with logos on women’s equality was organized in New York. That day over 15,000 women were marching along the city demanding a reduced working day and payment conditions equal to those of men. One of the main conditions laid by women was giving them the right to vote. But 8 March was not announced as an official holiday at once. On 19 March 1911 International Women’s Day was celebrated in Germany, Austria, Denmark and Switzerland. From 1910 to 1920 this holiday was also celebrated in different days of March. After that the world popularity of the holiday in these countries declined except for the USSR. In 1966 this day was finally approve as a holiday and day off in the territory of the USSR. Nowadays 8 March is observed in all post-Soviet countries including Kazakhstan. But at the modern stage this holiday does not imply any political context. It became a day of all women when love, beauty and kindness are extolled.