Land of nomads and of infinite mountains, on the ancient Silk Road, Kyrgyzstan welcomes more and more tourists each year. This country where the culture is well-preserved and authentic has a few local beliefs that are good to know before traveling. Here are a few you may see during your trip in Kyrgyzstan:
In Kyrgyzstan, when a baby is born, its parents keep it away from others for 40 days. Locals believe that if someone foreign to the family sees the baby before its 40 days, the baby will fall gravely ill. Big festivities are organized to celebrate the first 40 days of the newborn. You can learn about other interesting traditions linked to birth in our article.
40 days are also important regarding deaths. They mark the moment when the soul is believed to leave earth for heaven and hence give place for a celebration.
This is a ritual practiced by Kyrgyz families when someone has personal or financial difficulties. The name of the tree used is “Archa”. Locals burn the branches on a plate and the person holding the plate goes around the house and each member of the family with the smoking Archa branches, saying “may prosperity and success be with us”.
This belief is spread throughout the ex-Soviet Union space. No one really knows where it comes from. But whistling at home or indoors is supposed to bring bad luck and locals are very scared of that, so don’t whistle your favorite song while you are traveling in Kyrgyzstan. It’s believed to allow bad spirits to come indoors.
Throughout the soviet space, the full moon is believed to bring abundance. So it’s the best time to invest or deposit some money on your bank account, for instance.
Like in many other countries it’s considered a sign of good luck to find a horseshoe. And it will bring even more luck if you take it home, so it’s not uncommon to see a horseshoe hanging above a door in Kyrgyzstan.
A lot of people have their traditions to keep nightmares away: Indians used dream catchers they hung above their beds; in Guatemala people use dolls… In Kyrgyzstan, the tradition says to place bread, wheat or knives under your pillow to keep nightmares away.
Like in other Central Asian countries, locals here believe that seeing bubbles in your tea is a promise of future prosperity. There are a lot of traditions linked to tea in Kyrgyzstan. You’ll see that your hosts always serve a half empty cup, which is a sign of respect. Serving a full cup of tea means they want you to leave.