Saturday, 26 January 2013


So Mongolians don't get their first haircut until they are 3 or 5 years old for boys 4 or 6 for girls. The date of the first haircut is decided by the year of birth (Chinese animal year), the current year and finding an auspicious day. There is a whole ceremony and ritual surrounding this first haircut.

We recently had the honour of being invited to one such ceremony, it was the day after the party in the country.

We arrived at the apartment, to find the table laden with food and people sitting drinking milk tea and eating.
We were invited to sit and given the tea. Nothing can happen in any household until the guests have drunk milk or milk tea. Then despite the full table more food came out of the kitchen. Apart from the great salads there was some of the best buuz I have yet tasted. There was also lots to drink, vodka for the men and wine for the women. If you want to stop or slow down then leave your glass over half full or it gets topped up. hic.

After a while we were invited to actually cut the hair. The ceremony had started with the first cut around 7 in the morning when family began to arrive, at that time he had waist length hair. It was shoulder length when we arrived at  about 1:30. The men were the first to cut, oldest first. A blue khadak had been tied to the scissors and the khadak was made into a kind of bag at the other end. You cut the hair placed it in the pocket at the end of the khadak and then gave the young man a toy to replace the hair taken and/or the parents money. Some of the toys were elaborate some simple. Once everyone in the room had cut some hair and made their offering it was back to the table for more food and of course more vodka.

Only now the rules had changed - you were given a shot glass of vodka and told to sing. The glass and the choice of song would then move clockwise, everything goes clockwise here. Somewhat unfortunately I was given the honor of starting off proceedings. After much havering I gave a quick rendition of Auld lang syne sunk my shot and the process carried on around the table. We called for a taxi and sat listening to the Mongolians sing, one by one the glass moved round the table. The holder of the glass would spark up a song and they would all join in, then the shot was downed, the glass filled and passed to the next person. This particular ceremony is not restricted to hair cutting, it happens when ever a bunch of them get together. They have a culture of song here, everyone sings, all of the time. Unfortunately the taxi did not arrive in time to save me from receiving the shot glass for a second time. This time however I took the opportunity to take the 3 shot penalty for not singing and the bottle holder took great delight in making sure the glass was very full on all three occasions. We left at about 4:00pm and at about 5:30 they called a halt to proceedings and took Tushig to the barbers where his head was clean shaved.

It was a great day out but after a weekend partying with the locals I was well and truly done in.

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