Learn about Naadam in Mongolia and how sponsored children and families typically celebrate this significant holiday.

Happy Naadam! Each July, Mongolians celebrate Naadam, the nation’s biggest holiday.

In 2022, Naadam begins on July 11. As it follows the lunar calendar, the date varies each year, and it now commemorates the day in 1921 that Mongolia declared its independence from China. The festival lasts for several days and revolves around three traditional sports, known as the “three games of men”: archery, horse racing and Mongolian wrestling.

Naadam celebrations originally began in the 12th century as a way for Mongolians to show off their military prowess. Today, it is a colorful festival that celebrates the nation’s nomadic heritage and cultural traditions. Its main celebration and sporting events take place in the nation’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, but smaller celebrations are held throughout the country. Mongolians — both young and old — are invited to participate!

Mongolians sing, dance and participate in three traditional sports — archery, horse racing and wrestling — during this festive mid-summer celebration.

Men compete in the wrestling events, as per tradition. Women and children now take part in the archery competitions. Children also participate in the horse racing events, often wearing brightly colored clothing embroidered with butterflies, birds and stars — symbols of speed and luck.

Naadam is about having fun and spending time with family. So during these warm, mid-summer days, sponsored children may view an outdoor cultural performance or parade. They may watch celebrants sing, dance or tell stories, decked out in traditional Mongolian clothing. Or they may gather together with their family to eat khuushuur, a deep-fried meat dumpling made of mutton or beef, traditionally consumed during the holiday.

As they celebrate Naadam, sponsored children in Mongolia can do so because of the life-changing support of their sponsors. As a sponsor, your generous monthly gifts help cover basic needs and allow for time away to play and celebrate — whether your sponsored child lives with their family or in a care center in Ethiopia, Mongolia or another country where Holt works. Thank you for your heartfelt dedication to your sponsored child — and bayar khöörtei Naadam!

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