Traditions in Kyrgyzstan: Birth of a child

Traditions in Kyrgyzstan are the belief and behavior having a special significance. The listed below the ceremonies devoted to the birth of a child. Before giving birth to the child, expectant women protected from taught and harmful work. Relatives accompany her in long distances and saved from an evil eye by amulets and magical acts. In a moment of giving birth for a child, they put on fire day and night, also a knife for protecting from spirits and bad luck.

Baby birth continues with several customs full of happiness and joy. “Suiunchu” – notification to get a gift for the good news. “Korunduk” – gifts for showing baby for the first time. The first holiday and festivity are Jentek Toi (a holiday celebrating the birth of a child) and Beshik Toi (holiday on putting baby into cradle). Invited relatives, friends and neighbors. Giving a name for the newborn is one of the main occasions. Name is given by one of the oldest relatives, by honorable people of the family or community. The first taste given for the baby is melted yellow butter. The first cloth is called – Dog cloth, sewed from old honorable person’s white cloth, it touched to the dog and wear. It had an old belief to be safe and sound as a dog.

Another celebration of 40 days and putting baby into cradle happened in a family surrounding. Grandmas with female relatives wash up the baby and cut hair. Mother or Grandma sew a new shirt from 40 pieces of fabric collected from neighbors and relatives. All pieces take by the best wishes and ask for giving his or her best character or skill for the baby. They cook 40 kuimak (round fried bread) and share with relatives and neighbors.

Traditionally children protected and saved from bad spirits and bad sights. For that used different types of amulets and protectors. Amulets made of different parts of animals (nail of an eagle and wolf, the feather of the owl, etc), buttons and jewelry. If in the family there was a big rate of boys death they put a bracelet for the foot or earing to one ear, a small bead, even wear one detail of cloth as a girl one to protect and safe boys. That is all because of the big newborn death rate.

All these rites and ceremonies happened because of old beliefs to protect children and have a big family. Boys because of the patriarchal society counted as a generation and fathers line keeper. Also in nomadic life, a strong man’s work was needed. Maybe also because of the big rate of the baby boy’s death. Before the 20th-century successful family was a family with more than 5-6 children. A lot of proverbs about family and children. “Home with children is bazaar (happy and joy), childless home is mazar (cemetery)”.

When the baby starts making the first steps, a new celebration happened – “Tushoo toi or tushoo kesuu”. Black and white wool prepared for making a thread, tightened on feet of the baby. Two colors symbolizing light and dark, good and evil. Life of a human being always consists of good and bad days, happy and unhappiness. So that starting from childhood, a person needs to be ready for bad and good.

The early morning started with the participation of relatives and neighbors, local villagers. Baby put with tightened feet. On the opposite side children from 6 till 12 had to run and come first, take the knife and cut the wool. Then children take the hands of the baby and make several steps in a group. The knife gives as a gift (also add lamb or other gifts), for all children given gifts, sweets, toys or small money. The aim of the rite is magical reduce from tightened ropes and have a force for self-steps. Till these days this rite is used with small changes and additional celebrations.

All shifting from one period of life to another celebrated with small rituals – sunnot for boys (making boys Muslims), first sitting on the saddle of horseback – for boys, making 40 beads for the girl, etc.

Kyrgyz people keep a calendar of the 12-years cycle, noted by animals. Every 12-year cycle year called “Muchol”. First muchol year celebrated at 13 years (12 years+prenatal) and started from that added 12 years (in 13, 25,37, etc). First muchol year celebrated with the slaughtering of sheep, inviting relatives and wearing red cloth and breaking one piece of a favorite dish. It says in muchol years here happened changes within the body and mind, a person became weak and need special support by the spirits and have blessed. Need also make donations and gifts. For 13 years that was a period of being not kid but teenage and can take care of cattle by himself. Girl teenager also became a young lady and she can make household and became not a kid.

As in many cultures, Kyrgyz people also ask another parturient woman to help with breastfeeding. If mom is ill or has problems with breastfeeding other relatives or villages can help with nursing. The nurse respected in that family and became like a family member. Two baby’s feed by one woman became “milking brother and sisters” and treat as blood relatives and prohibit to make marriages between them. After breastfeeding ended another celebration and make a buyout of baby with gifts and gratefulness.

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