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10 Mongolian Cultural Habits You Didn’t Know

Read it in French: 10 choses que seules les Mongols font

Shaking hands

Whether it was your fault or not, it does not matter. If you happen to step on someone’s foot, it’s mandatory to shake hands. While you can verbally say sorry; Mongolians rarely say anything and opt to just shake hands quickly as sign of respect and apology.

Smelling instead of kissing

Ever had your aunts, uncles, and relatives give you a slobbered kiss whenever you came to meet them after a while? In Mongolian tradition, most elders smell younger people’s heads as a way to show affection.

Exchanging Khuurugs

It is expected of most Mongolians to have khuurugs, a canteen carved out of rare stone and marble. You store powdered tobacco and exchange your khuurug with strangers you meet on the road or when visiting relatives during Tsagaan Sar.

Calling babies ugly

If a Mongolian calls your baby ugly, it actually means the baby is cute or adorable. Sometimes Mongolians will say the exact opposite as a way to compliment.

Men wearing dresses/robes

While the Deel isn’t exactly a dress, you can’t deny the resemblance it has to dresses. However, a nomad outfitted in a deel is nothing but badass.

Vodka with everything

Next time you visit a Mongolian, ask him what he has in his liquor shelf. 9 times out of 10, they will respond vodka. Vodka is the choice of drink for anything that needs to be celebrated.

Serving food for strangers

It’s a taboo to let visitors and guests to leave with an empty stomach. It’s very common for Mongolians to offer guests suutei tsai, boortsog, and sometimes even a full home made meal.

boisson mongole

Reading poetry

During festivals and celebrations, it is pretty much a mandatory requirement to hire a professional poet (zuir tsetsen ugch) for the event. It enriches the experience and gives Mongolians a sense of appreciation for their culture.

Exchanging gifts

During tsagaan sar, the lunar new year of Mongolia, it is very shameful to come without any presents for relatives, especially if you come without any gifts for the children and the host family.

Silver cup with blue linen

It won’t be considered an official celebration if you don’t have a khadag and a silver cup to offer to the guests. It’s a way of giving good-will and a warm welcome.

 

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