If there is one thing you need to know about Mongolians, it is the fact that Mongolians like to enjoy life and have a good time, which is why parties in Mongolia can sometimes get out of control, especially when alcohol is involved.
However, some people wonder why and how Mongolians celebrate Christmas when it is not one of their official holidays. We will get into the details right here!
How Many Christians Are There in Mongolia?
According to the latest surveys, the number of Christians in Mongolia is about ~2.5% totaling around 75,000 people. While Mongolian religious beliefs have been Buddhistic for the past hundreds of years, there are a growing number of Christians. These people mainly live in Ulaanbaatar the capital and have had exposure to Western values and lifestyles.
Christianity is in fact one of the major growing religions in Mongolia because many missionaries come to Mongolia to spread the gospel, whereas Buddhism is on the decline and there hasn’t been much government effort to keep the teachings of Buddha alive.
Is Christmas an Official Holiday?
No, Christmas is not an official holiday, but Christians in Mongolia nonetheless will go out during the evening for dinner or spend time with family just like any other Christians around the world.
While it is not recognized by the government as a national holiday, for some reason, even non-Christians will go out and party to celebrate “Зул сар”, well because it is an excuse to have fun.
Why Do People Celebrate Christmas?
Although it is not officially recognized as a holiday by the government, Western values and holidays have had some influence in Mongolia for the past years. Celebrating Christmas, even if they are non-Christians, sometimes is hip and cool.
Some schools, organizations, and companies do organize events during that time. You even see commercials about Christmas on the TV. Non-Christian Mongolians seem to regard Christmas as Halloween, where the religious affiliation is taken out of it.
How Is It Celebrated?
As said, though it is not officially celebrated, friends, companies, and schools will organize parties, trips, etc. Most Mongolians wouldn’t even know about the religious connotations of Christmas, but it’s regarded as the pre-game or the warmup for the New Year’s Celebration.
The New Year Celebrations
The New Year is officially celebrated in Mongolia and people take the day off work and school. Though it is not connected with Christmas, Mongolians in fact have their version of Santa Claus.
Who is The Mongolian Santa Claus
The Mongolian version of Santa Claus is called the “Uvleen Uvgun” meaning winter’s grandpa. Men usually dress up as Uvleen Uvgun and make appearances at kids’ parties and events handing out presents.
Uvleen Uvgun is pretty much like Santa Claus, but he doesn’t wear red clothes but blue and white, and he doesn’t sit in front of Christmas Trees.
The Mongolian Christmas Tree
The Mongolian “Christmas Tree” is also one of the things that have no affiliation with Christianity, but Mongolians like to decorate their homes with small Evergreen trees or something resembling that shape. In fact, if you visit Sukhbaatar Square, you will find a giant Christmas Tree.
When people visit, some of them leave money on the tree for good fortunes for the next year.
New Year’s Eve and Celebrations
On the 31st just before New Year’s, families will be homemaking preparations. It is common for relatives and family members to visit one another a few hours before the clock hits midnight, but it is also common for relatives to celebrate the new year’s together.
In case you do come to Mongolia during the New Year celebrations, you better have some food ready for guests because family and friends can decide to drop by without notice.
Or if you are single, or perhaps want to celebrate New Year like in most Western countries, you can visit the Sukhbaatar Square where hundreds of people will stand outside freezing temperatures just to make the day memorable.
New Year’s Day
On the actual New Year’s Day, most people stay at home and relax. It is a time for reflection, relaxation, and for families to stay together.
About the single people out there, they mostly are trying to recover from the hangover from the last night’s party at a friend’s house 😉