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Almost every day, the media reports on global warming, so people have started wishing for winter now more than ever. In Mongolia, you will find winter by the wisps of breath from months, and the cracking sound of tree limps weighted in snow.
Mongolian winter is the most incredible season that you might experience and have trips to the countryside to visit nomadic families. Some people think that Mongolian winter is unbearable cold and there’s nothing to do and see in the country in winter. Of course, it gets cold in winter. But that’s no reason to stay indoors. Glittering white snow, clear fresh air, sun and little chills are the image of Mongolian winter.
Winter lasts from early November until April, with the coldest period being between mid-December and the end of February or mid-March when the temperatures drops to -20C or -30C, occasionally even lower. There are some regions, especially in the northwest, where the temperature goes down to -40c to -50C. Mountains remain snow-coated from October until the beginning of April. The precipitation, which typically occurs as snow during the winter months, varies considerably from year to year. Heavy snow occurs mainly in mountain regions.
If you decide to travel to Mongolia during this period, first plan your route well. There are less snow in Gobi. Winter in this region quite warm, like spring. But if you wish to see real winter with snow and ice, it is best to explore the mountains and steppe.
Marvelous high mountain ranges covered in snow, and frozen, clear rivers and lakes are signs of true winter in Mongolia. Winter in the steppe is cold and has heavy snowfall. For people who like ski and sled or are interested in photo hunting the vast mountain ranges are perfect destination. There are also people who like carving holes into the frozen for ice fishing.
Alaskan winter is often compared to that of Mongolia. Although the climates are quite similar, Mongolian winter is perhaps more interesting because one can experience winter on the steppe, desert and taiga. Each is unique and special experience. Winter in Mongolia is peaceful, calm and picturesque like a sleeping princess. The sensation of snow frozen cheeks in a snowstorm while gazing upon mountains and valleys covered with snow will give you a true appreciation of the beauty of winter.
If you want to see the most interesting lifestyle in winter, visit the Tsaatan reindeer herders. Winter with a great deal of snow, like at snow lake, is heaven for reindeer who can easily find food underneath the snow, and can stay fit and well fed as long as it snows. For travelers whose dream is to ride reindeer in the taiga, this is a dream come true. The moments spent sitting in a deer breeder’s tent near a fire with the scent of smoke of wet tree branches will erase all memories of urbanization, traffic and noise.
Ulaanbaatar’s winter has been filled with fascinating events such as the classical opera, various cultural performances and fashion shows that keep the city’s residents busy and delighted. The Torgo Show, which is considered one of the largest among fashion festivals, has recently passed.
The New Year is celebrated widely in Mongolia, and on December 31st, citizens of Ulaanbaatar gather at the Central square of the city to watch live performances, enjoy a champagne toast together, and watch fireworks. This is their way of welcoming the New Year. In Western countries, children write letters to Santa Claus for gifts, but in Mongolia it is Father Frost wearing a blue robe who distributes presents to children.
Lunar New Year Celebration (Tsagaan Sar, the festival of the Lunar New Year is celebrated in or around January or February depending on the Mongolian lunar calendar) Thousands of dumplings, buuz and other delicacies made from scratch over the Lunar New Year celebration. It is a time for families to visit each other, pay their respects, especially to the older generations while exchanging gifts.
Tsagaan Sar started out as a celebration for hunters setting out during the frontiers of fall and winter and distributing their bounty to each and every member of their tribe. However, when livestock herding became the primary means of sustenance, the holiday began to be celebrated at the start of spring when livestock dairy is abundant and offspring are healthy. Mongolians greet the new year and each other with gestures of respect, formal greetings, and sentiment. The young respect the old by holding their elders’ elbows with their palms facing up, a gesture which symbolizes that the young will always respect and nurture the elderly.
To introduce this traditional holiday to tourists we organizes the “White Month” event. During this event you will have the opportunity to visit nomadic families and learn more about their routines, while celebrating Tsagaan Sar with them. In addition, there will be a folk art performance, a demonstration of traditional clothing and games, shamanism, and other cultural heritages to introduce the rich culture to spectators.
The Mongolian Tourism Association is organizing a Mongolian ice game musun shagai (anklebones on ice) for the Nomads’ Winter program on the third day of Tsagaan Sar(Lunar New Year).The Mongolian ice games have been celebrated since ancient times, and it is nearly the winter equivalent of the Mongolian three-manly sporting festival, Naadam. This game originates from the traditional Mongolian game, shagai nyaslakh (flicking ankle bones) and archery. The game is held on an ice field, where competitors slide the ankle bones of cows down a lane while aiming to hit their targets.
The number of attendees at the Ice Festival has increased every year. The festival will be organized as two events: chain shooting and mixed shooting. Foreigners and locals gather together and are put into teams to compete against each other.