Uzbekistan Holidays and Festivals
There are a number of holidays and festivals in Uzbekistan that celebrate the republic’s history, culture, heritage and beliefs. Here are details of Uzbekistan’s national holidays and some of the most popular festivals you can visit:
Day of defenders of the Native land (January, 14th)
Uzbekistan celebrates the creation of its armed forces under jurisdiction of the Republic of Uzbekistan on January 14, 1992.
Women's day (March, 8th)
An international holiday celebrating women, is also known as “Mothers Day”. The holiday coincides with the first days of spring and men give gifts and flowers to their mothers, wives and daughters.
Navruz (March, 21st)
The most ancient national holiday Navruz, meaning "new day", is considered the beginning of a new year. The date is spring equinox, when the length of day and night is identical. Many Uzbek family prepare national dishes including Sumalak, Halim, Somsa, Pilov and others. This holiday was revived in Uzbekistan after independence
Day of memory and honour (May, 9th)
On May 9th, 1999 the ‘Square of Memory’ was opened Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. On the same day every year since the Day of memory and honour is celebrated to honour the memory of compatriots who protected Uzbekistan’s freedom and independence. National heroes include Tumaris, Shiroq, Spitamen, Jaloliddin Maguberdi, Najmiddin Kubro, Namoz-batir, Kadiri, Behbudi, Munavar-kori, Chulpon, Avloniy, Fitrat and Usman Nosir.
Many local or provincial celebrations of spring take place in various parts of Uzbekistan. The biggest and perhaps the most culturally significant event is the Boysun Bahori. Held in mountainous Boysun in Surkhandarya Province, this festival dates back to pre-Islam times and features costumes, songs, dance performances, storytelling, and other local traditions which have withstood the test of time. This event is so steeped in the region’s history and culture that in 2001 UNESCO named the Boysun district as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Shark Taronalari is Uzbekistan’s international world music festival. First held in 1997 in Samarkand, the festival has attracted a growing number of performers and participants through the years. It usually takes place every summer. Folk singers who practice traditional musical genres such as uran khai (throat singing) and makom (sacred classical, melodic Uzbek music) come to the festival to perform alongside musicians from Europe and Asia.
Independence Day (September, 1st)
Held every September 1, Independence Day is the biggest national holiday as the entire country remembers the day of independence and sovereignty after a long era of Soviet occupation. Feasts and shows are held in many cities and towns. At the Alisher Navoiy National Park in Tashkent, the president addresses the nation, after which performances from the country’s singers and actors take place, along with a large fireworks display.
Day of teachers and instructors (October, 1st)
In Uzbekistan the deep respect for teachers is celebrated each year. Students thank their tutors with flowers and gifts.
Constitution Day (December, 8th)
The constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan was accepted by the Oliy Majlis (Legistlative chamber/Parliament) on 8th December, 1992. The constitution consists of 6 sections, 26 chapters and 128 article. This holiday is celebrated across all Uzbekistan, and carries out various actions, devoted to the constitution day.
Uzbeks have a particularly curious New Year festival called the Yillar. Traditions normally carried out during Christmas in other countries take place in Uzbekistan during the New Year. These traditions include putting up a fir tree with lots of decorations. Uzbeks also exchange gifts during this time and at some feasts, a man in a Santa costume joins in the merriment.