Celebrating New Year

Are you ready for a confusing mix of traditional culture, modern interpretation, and a wonderful injection of vibrancy, Salem Social Village style? Then read on…

The Spring equinox in Kazakhstan is Nauriz, the Kazakh New Year, the start of the new cycle of the seasons once more, and a chance to celebrate ethnic traditions and culture. But this year at Salem, we marked it with a slightly different format to previous years.

Rather than having one big party over lunch (the more traditional way), we spread things out a bit, starting late morning and continuing into the evening, with guests who arrived throughout the day being treated with some traditional activities.

The chef, who cooked 200 portions of plov for our guests, showing off his work

Throughout the day, there was a whole lot of festive fun, with a whole lot of national flavour demonstrated in the programme.

Elements of traditional Kazakh dress were optional, but appreciated

We were privileged to welcome some music students from a local music college, who performed various traditional numbers, well known to the locals, on their dombras.

The musicians and singers did not disappoint

Staff and guests were also given a lesson in how to make ‘kurt’, a local delight that many foreigners aren’t so keen on, that might be best described as heavily salted balls of dried sour cream. It’s traditional!

Making kurt balls really does require you to get your hands dirty

There were also some much-loved traditional games, including one involving throwing the knee bone of a sheep – understandable when you remember that this is a nation who had to be pretty inventive with what they had as nomadic herdsmen traversing the empty steppe!

And the winner is…

We also had lessons in some traditional Kazakh dance moves – watch the clip below to learn them for yourself, and then maybe try them out next time the mood catches you.


That much-loved regional delight – mutton, rice, carrot, chick peas, all topped with greenery

And of course there was plenty plov to eat – an excellent way to celebrate a New Year, friendship, and long-lasting traditions. Happy New Year to you all!