Central Asian Christmas

4 01 2011

Well, it’s a new year!  Isn’t that nifty?


I’ve spent the last couple of weeks immersed in holiday joy and planning my first field research trip to the Kyrgyz countryside.  The former was awesome.  The latter is still a work in progress.  So let’s focus on the holidays!


On Christmas Eve, the London School (my language school from when I first arrived) hosted an end-of-term holiday party.  The primary event was a play about Дед Мороз (“Djed Moroz” Grandfather Frost — the local version of Santa Claus) and his granddaughter Снегурочка (“Snegurochka” The Snow Maiden) and some evil spirits who stole her laugh.  I played the non-canonical role of “Инспектор Курт” (Inspector Kurt) who tracked down the villains and aided in the return of Снегурочка’s laugh.  Scattered throughout the play were individual performances of song and dance by many of the students and teachers.


After the official party, about 15 of us — roughly half locals and half expats — headed to a local watering hole and continued the holiday spirit with a battle of carols, in which the local crew would sing Russian holiday songs to us at full volume, and we’d respond in turn with boisterous, off-key renditions of Western carols.  This went on for nearly two hours — much to the amusement (and perhaps consternation) of the other bar patrons.  It was a grand sharing of culture and festiveness.


On Christmas morning, I woke up and started cooking.  I decided to host an orphan’s Christmas that afternoon, so that anyone who wanted to would have somewhere to spend their Christmas.  I made cheeseballs, deviled eggs, meatballs, eggnog, chicken satay, cauliflower crostini and cookies.  Tons and tons of cookies.  (BTW, sugar cookies are a pain in the ass to make!)


Just some of the Christmas spread

Earlier in the week, I decided that we needed a Christmas tree.  But I wasn’t in the mood to try to procure a real one.  So, with a little holiday creativity, I whipped up the following creation:

Our makeshift Christmas Tree

This little guy served us well and only cost a couple hundred som (~$4-5) to put together.  Huzzah!


People started arriving around three, and everyone noshed and imbibed and socialized and listened to holiday music and shared in the general festivities.  After a few hours, we gathered around the “tree” to participate in our White Elephant gift exchange.

Jyldyz tries to grinch the white elephant presents!

The gifts were as varied as a couple of cans of Jaguar (kind of a Kyrgyz Four Loko) to tiger slippers to Obama Viagra (don’t even ask) to an oven mitt to a cat in a bag.  Everyone had a good time, claimed their gifts and then turned the night into a dance party of epic proportions!

Shakin' our Christmas booties!

All told, throughout the afternoon and evening, we had roughly 40 people over from a dozen or so countries — from Turkmenistan to New Zealand and the USA to Poland.  Around midnight, most everyone headed off to a concert at a local nightclub, but I was wiped out from hosting, so I stayed in and crashed relatively early.  But what fun it was!




2 responses

5 01 2011
Brian Y

What fun it was indeed. Big thanks to you Inspector for your exemplary partymaking skills.

15 11 2011

Love the make shift Christmas tree, I bet it made a change having cheeseballs and meatballs instead of the traditional Turkey dinner.

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