Sunday, December 4, 2016

Independence Day

In late November, Sally and I found ourselves with a three day weekend because of Mongolian Independence Day. The Mongolian government waited until a Wednesday to declare a Friday a national holiday. Many Mongolians found this to be poor planning.

Independence Day in Mongolia is not a celebration of independence as a democracy from Russia; rather it is a celebration of independence from China in 1921. After the fall of the last Mongol Khaan in the mid-17th century China step in and reclaimed Mongolia as a province under the Qing dynasty. Mongolia remained a part of china until 1921 when it declared its independence through the help of the second most famous Mongolian, General Sukhbaatar, who established the Mongolian People’s Party. This opened the door for the Soviet Union to claim Mongolia as a satellite nation under communist rule. While it is clear that Mongolia wanted to break free from China to be an independent nation, it is doubtful that Sukhbaatar and other Mongolian leaders intended for the country to become so tightly controlled by the USSR in the 20th century. Stalinist purges affected the country in the 1930, resulting in destruction and elimination of traditional Buddhist and Shamanistic sites and monks. The estimated death toll of this event is in the 30 thousands.

In 1991, with the fall of Soviet Union, Mongolia was forced to become independent yet again. This time the independence would be in the form of a democracy. Democracy has been difficult for the Mongolians. They have had some great economic years and some terrible recessions, but the country continues to learn from its mistakes and become the proud nation that its people imagine.

Last year for Independence Day, Sally and I joined our teachers on a parade. This year we just met in the city square to celebrate. The parade was canceled on account of it being too cold. Still, we did manage to get a number of pictures in traditional deels. Sally and I purchased a set of matching fall deels in August. To have matching deels is common among married people.
Me with a number of my male teachers
A bunch of my teachers dressed up in traditional winter deels for Independence Day.

Matching Deels!

Sally, our site mate Kyra, and I
A final side note, the winter continues to be much colder than last year. It is possible that this winter will bring extreme weather conditions. The Mongolians call these kinds of winters a zuud. A Зүд is characterized by extreme cold and more than average snow fall that can lead to loss of livestock as the animals are unable to reach the grass.    


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