Mongolia

Climate in Mongolia

Mongolia is known to the world as country of “Blue Sky”. It has a continental climate, with long, cold, dry winters and brief, mild, and relatively wet summers. The country is subject to occasional harsh climatic conditions known annual average temperature in Ulaanbaatar is 0°C, making it the world's coldest capital city. Mongolia is high, cold, and windy. It has an extreme continental climate with long, cold winters and short summers, during which most of its annual precipitation falls. The country averages 257 cloudless days a year, and it is usually at the center of a region of high atmospheric pressure.

Spring in Mongolia

Spring comes after a severe winter, days become longer, and nights shorter. It is the time for snow to melt and for animals to come out from hibernation. Spring is the prosperous season of the year when everybody is calm and relaxed; grass turns green, anemones grow up and nature is covered with its green dress. Beginning in March spring usually lasts about 60 days although it can be as long as 70 days or as short as 45 days in some areas of the country. 

Summer in Mongolia

Summer is the warmest season in Mongolia. Generally, precipitation is higher in summer than any time of the year. Rivers and streams are at their fullest in summer. It is the time when pasture, grass and crops grow and livestock gain weight and fat. It is the most pleasant time with abundant dairy products and there are many feasts and holidays of happy people. In Mongolia, summer lasts about 110 days from the end of May until September. July is the warmest month of summer and it is 59° F (15° С) and 68° F (20° С) in mountainous areas of Khangai region, 68° F (20° С) and 77° F (25° С) in the steppes and the highest temperature is between 90° F (32° С) and 95° F (35° С) in Khangai and 104° F (40° С) and 106° F (41° С) in Gobi. Sometimes it reaches 122° F (50° С) in Gobi.

Autumn in Mongolia

Autumn in Mongolia is the season of transition from the hot and wet summer to the cold and dry winter. There is less rainfall in autumn. Gradually it gets cooler and vegetables and grains are harvested at this time. Pasture and forests become yellow. Flies die and livestock is fat and woolly in preparation for the winter. Autumn is an important season in Mongolia in order to prepare for winter; harvesting the crops, vegetables and fodder; getting ready their cattle barns and sheds; preparing firewood and warming up their homes and so on. Autumn lasts about 60 days from the beginning of September until the early November. In some years, there are many long and sunny days in autumn.

Winter in Mongolia

In Mongolia, winter is the most severe, the coldest and longest season. All rivers, lakes, streams and ponds freeze in winter. It snows throughout the country, but not heavily. After making all the necessary preparations for a long winter, herdsmen stay at their winter camps. Winter starts early in November and lasts about 110 days until March. Sometimes it snows in September and November, but the heavy snow usually occurs at the beginning of November. January is the coldest winter month in Mongolia and the mean temperature is 95°F (-35°С) in Khangai mountain regions, 59° F (-15°С) in Gobi and 68°F (-20°С) and 77°F (-25°С) in the other parts of the country. However, 50° F (-10° С) in Europe means 68° F (-20° С) in Mongolia.

Traditional foods / Үндэсний зоог

Khorkhog

Mutton cooked with host stones in a container. Khorkhog is probably the most exciting mongolian dishes, and one of the most tasty ones. The meat of a sheep (sometimes less) is cooked together with vegetables in a closed container, with the help of heated stones. For a large Khorkhog, a metal milk container is normally used. For smaller amounts, other containers serve just as well, in our case two normal cooking bowls put on top of each other.

Boodog

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This dish is usually made by removing the bowels and bones of large carcasses and then cooking it from the inside by putting in hot stones through the neck cavity, which is then sealed. The meat prepared in this fashion is tasty, tender and fragrant. You can even add pepper, salt and vegetables to this preparation as well. 

Khuushuur

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Large filled pockets, fried or deep fried. It is a kind of meat pastry or dumpling popular in Mongolia. Meat, either beef or mutton, is ground up and mixed with onion (or garlic) salt and other spices. The cook rolls the dough into circles, then places the meat inside the dough and folds the dough in half, creating a flat half-circular pocket. The cook then closes the pockets by pressing the edges together. A variety of khuushuur has a round shape made by pressing the dough and mince together using the dough roller. After making the pockets, the cook fries them in oil until the dough turns a golden brown. The khuushuur is then served hot, and can be eaten by hand.

Buuz

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Small filled pockets, steamed. It is a type of steamed dumpling filled with minced mutton, or yak meat. The meat is flavored with onion or garlic and salted. Occasionally, they are flavored with malted fennel seeds and other seasonal herbs. The meat ball is then placed inside a small pocket of dough which is folded around the ball with a small opening at the top and in the chef’s own personal style. The buuz is then steamed and eaten by hand, with the dough pocket catching the juices of the meat.

Guriltai shol

A hearty soup with meat and fried noodles. As with any soup, the ingredients and their relative amounts can be varied at will. In the Mongolian cuisine the only constants are the presence of meat and noodles.

Dairy products

Mongolians have found creative and ingenious ways to use the milk of all five of the domestic animals in the country: sheep, cattle, goats, camels and horses.

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Orom is the cream that forms on top of boiled milk;

Aaruul are dried curds and can be seen baking in the sun on top of gers in the summer;

Eezgii is the dried cheese;

Tarag, is the sour yogurt;

Byaslag, this type of mild, cheese is produced on the basis raw milk.

Aarts, produced by cutting drained aarts with string, then setting to dry in the sun.

Shar tos, melted butter from curds and orom, and tsagaan tos, boiled orom mixed with sometimes flour, natural fruits or eetsgii.

The method of drying the dairy products is common in preparing them. The Mongolians prepare enough dairy products for the long winter and spring.

Alcohol

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Airag: Airag is a Mongolian traditional drink that is fermented mare’s milk. Rural people make it in the summer time. It is commonly stored in a leather bag. Mongolian people drink airag during Naadam festival, weddings, New Year and other holidays. Some people can drink 2-3 liters of it in one sitting. Airag has an alcohol content of 7-8%. 

Vodka & Shimiin Arkhi

Mongols have made vodka for many centuries since the first Mongol people, the Hunnus. Making vodka is a complex process and requires a lot of skill and the right materials. The process of making vodka has been passed down through many generations, from father to son, and mother to daughter.

Nationwide holidays / Баярын өдрүүд

January 1st – New Year’s Day

First Three Days of the Year – Tsagaan Sar (White Moon) or Lunar New Year

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Tsagaan Sar is celebrated according to the lunar calendar. The date falls anywhere between the end of January and early March in the Gregorian calendar.

March 8th – International Women’s Day

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June 1st – Mother’s and Children’s Day

July 11 – July 13 Naadam 

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Naadam is a traditional festival in Mongolia. The festival is also locally termed "eriin gurvan naadam” ("the three games of men"). The games are Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and archery and are held throughout the country during midsummer. Women have started participating in the archery and girls in the horse-racing games, but not in Mongolian wrestling. In 2010, Naadam was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of UNESCO.

First day of the first winter month of the year – Genghis Khan’s birthday

Established in 2012. This day expresses a symbolic birthday of Genghis Khan as his exact date of birth is not found.

December 26 Independence Day

Mongolian Culture / Монголын соёл урлаг

Morin Khur

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Morin Khur, or horse-head fiddle is a Mongolian national musical instrument. Up to 1990s the instrument was mainly used to perform national melodies which imitate animals’ and nature’s appearance and behavior, especially the horse. Nowadays, it is also used to perform world classical melodies. Many of the Mongolian and foreign spectators are impressed and delighted about the instrument’s potential. Morin Khur which represents the greatest symbol of national musical instruments was created by the nomadic Mongolians, and it is registered into the world cultural heritage. A new player of Morin Khur, first of all, learns to imitate the amble gait of a horse. This shows that the horse-head fiddle is inseparable from the Mongolians and their horses. The horse has been the pride of Mongolian cavalrymen, and the mainstay of their unity.

Long song

Long song is a unique traditional singing style known as Urtiin duu. Its miracle is unrepeatable elsewhere. A herder taking herds to pasture sings a song which involves extraordinarily complicated, drawn-out vocal sounds. It is evocative of the boundless steppe. While the people from other countries live in relevancy of each other, the Mongolians are comparatively independent people. This specific of life is formed into majestic profound songs, demanding great skill and the breathing abilities. Long songs are produced in the depth of people’s real life that is why there is no author and composer. They represent one of the oldest genres of Mongolian musical art, dating to the 13th century.

Khuumii

The Khuumii involves producing two simultaneous tones with the human voice. It is a difficult skill requiring special ways of breathing. One tone comes out as a whistle-like sound, the result of locked breath in the chest being forced out through the throat in a specific way, while a lower tone sounds as a base. The Khuumii is considered musical art -not exactly singing, but using one’s throat as an instrument. It doesn’t occur in other national cultures.

Ger, the traditional dwelling

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The Mongolian, Kyrgyz and Kazakh people live in ger what the West, following Russians, call yurt. However, Kyrgyz and Kazakh people have given up the portable home of nomads and already transferred to a sedentary way of life. Hut was the first human dwelling 10 thousand years ago. Thereafter, a round form dwelling ger, the portable home of nomads has been created. Its dismantling takes only half an hour, erection takes about an hour.

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The “khana” (wooden wall shell) is erected and the “uni” (rafters) are set and only then is the covering felt laid. The girth-ropes express future, present and past times, and the three generations. The valuable objects and religious altars are kept in “hoimor” opposite the door. Male belongings, including saddle and bridle as well as Morin Huur (horse-head fiddle) are kept in the western section, as it is occupied by men. Women occupy the eastern section, where they keep kitchen utensils in a rack. Ger looks like the terrestrial globe. Due to its round-form, it does not store bad energy in its corners. People who live in ger easily get asleep. And spending a night in ger quickly removes one’s agitation and anger.

Clothing

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The main garment is the deel, a long, one-piece gown made from wool or silk. Most Mongolians have several different deels, appropriate for different seasons, as well as a more decorative deel for special occasions. Winter deels are often lined with sheep skin. The deel has a high collar, is often brightly colored, is worn with a multipurpose sash, and is worn by men and women year-round. Ethnic groups are differentiated by the color, decoration, and shape of their deel. The khantaaz is a shorter traditional jacket, often made of silk, which is also buttoned to the side, and usually worn over the deel. With regards to hats, the fur-trimmed hats, mostly made of sable, are popular. The gutul is a high boot made from thick leather and sometimes decorated ornately. They are easy to put on – both the left and right boot is the same shape. There exist many explanations for the curled, upturned toe.