Genna Festival – Ethiopia

Ethiopia was the second country in the world to become Christian after Armenia, and Christianity has defined much of its national character. As the famous historian Edward Gibbon once said in 1776: “Encompassed on all sides by enemies of their religion, the Ethiopians slept near a thousand years, forgetful of the world by whom they were forgotten.” The festival of Genna (Ethiopian Christmas) is the most important celebration of the year in this still most religious of countries – and is indeed like stepping back in time to an ancient world of glittering pomp and ceremony; not yet diluted by pacifying effects of globalisation. The festival takes place in early January.

Naadam Festival – Mongolia

Naadam in Mongolian means “the three games of men”; consisting of Mongolian wrestling, horse racing, and archery. The festival is held throughout the country during July and women also participate in the archery and horse-racing but not yet in Mongolian wrestling. It is the most popular festival among Mongols having existed for centuries with its origin in the military training for warfare which during the 13th Century under Genghis Khan made them the most feared race on the planet. Genghis Khan’s nine horsetails, representing the nine tribes of the Mongols, are still ceremonially transported to Ulaanbaatar Stadium to open the Naadam festivities amid impressive parades of mounted cavalry, athletes and monks.

Nowruz Festival – Iran

Nowruz, in Farsi literally “new day”, is the Persian New Year marking the vernal equinox and the first day of the first month of the Iranian calendar on 21st March. It is rooted in the ancient Iranian religions of Mithraism and Zoroastrianism and has been celebrated for over 3000 years. Families observe it by doing a deep clean of their homes, and setting aside a space for a collection of seven items that symbolise their hopes for the new year including Sabzeh: a growing grass for rebirth, Senjed: Dried fruit for love, Sib: Apples, for beauty, Seer: Garlic, for medicine, Samanu: A sweet pudding, for wealth and fertility, Serkeh: Vinegar, for the patience, and Sumac: A Persian spice made from crushed red berries, for the sunrise of a new day.

2020 World Nomad Games – Kyrgyzstan?

In September we took 15 clients to the 2018 World Nomad Games, held on the shores of lake Issyk Kul in Kyrgyzstan. The event is held every two years and contestants come from all over the Central Asian Steppe and indeed the world to compete in the traditional regional games of horse racing, Kok Boro (nomad polo – where instead of a ball and stick from your horse you have to score with a decapitated goat carcass!), archery, wrestling, eagle hunting and many more. We had the most fantastic adventure staying in yurts seeing the local Kyrgyz dressed in their traditional outfits – not to mention the spectacular opening ceremony. There are rumours that the event may be moved to Turkey in 2020 – but wherever it goes – YellowWood will be there!

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