At this time of year some of Salomat Ikat’s customers, whilst happily shopping with us, ask how the celebrations and preparations are going for the festive period in Tajikistan.
That’s why I thought to write a blog post about ‘Christmas’, or rather, ‘New Year’ celebrations in Tajikistan.
Firstly, Tajikistan is a Muslim country, and the majority of the population are Sunni Muslims. Thus, we do not celebrate Christmas but we have Islamic celebrations throughout the year, such as Eid.
However, due to our time in the Soviet Union we also enjoy celebrating New Year’s Eve on the 31st of December. For us on New Year’s Eve we prepare food in a similar way as those in the West do for Christmas Day. The table of every Tajik family on this occasion is full of delicious food such as a range of salads (including the classic Olivier salad) and lost of national dishes such as ‘oshi palov’, ‘shish-kababs’ and others (each family makes their own favourite dishes) and of course, homemade cakes.
As a Soviet tradition we also still love watching Russian channels with various programs which are full of performances and songs celebrating the New Year. It is a tradition that most of the post-Soviet countries like Tajikistan watch the same Soviet films as we used to during the Soviet Union. We also enjoy dancing and inviting family members to our house. Usually, young people go to each others house and celebrate with each other but by 12 midnight everyone should be with their families to meet the New Year in together.
We also have our own Father Christmas/Santa, although we call him Father Frost in Russian and Father Snow in Tajik. We don't have Santa's little helpers like Elves but we do have a Granddaughter of Father Frost who is called 'Snegurochka' from Russian and in English would be Snow-Maiden or Ice-Princess. Here is the classic picture of our Father Frost and his helper Snow-Maiden.
All young children learn a lot of poems to tell to Father Frost and get presents - mostly lots of sweets and chocolate.
In terms of decorations people in Tajikistan and the former Soviet Union also have Christmas trees, and the tradition is that the children in the house will decorate it.
I remember one year when my brother and I were very young we were begging our Mum to let us decorate the Christmas tree a couple of days early. My Mum agreed as long as I learnt my Times Tables (because I was rubbish at maths), so my brother helped me and I learnt them at a high speed so we could decorate the tree. This shows how important it is for a Tajik kid to decorate the Christmas tree and wait for Father Frost. We used to write letters to Father Frost as well with all of our wishes.
In Kindergartens and schools they have new year performances which children prepare wearing special costumes. As well, this is the season of festive performances for children in all theatres of Tajikistan. All children go to such performances and each of them gets a present from Father Frost.
This is a picture of my nephew wearing a Zorro outfit :)
We make lots of New Year decorations as well, and at school they helped us make our own and we were helped to make things like snow flakes etc. So all Soviet Kids and parents will know how to make them. This all was part of fun.
So - Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Salomat Ikat! Have a wonderful holidays and may all your bold dreams come true!