Before the Russian conquest

Before the Russian conquest, the Kazaks had a well-articulated culture based on their nomadic pastoral economy. Although Islam was introduced to most of the Kazaks in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the religion was not fully assimilated until much later. As a result, it coexisted with earlier elements of shamanistic and animistic beliefs. Traditional Kazak belief held that separate spirits inhabited and animated the earth, sky, water, and fire, as well as domestic animals. To this day, particularly honored guests in rural settings are treated to a feast of freshly killed lamb. Such guests are sometimes asked to bless the lamb and to ask its spirit for permission to partake of its flesh. Besides lamb, many other traditional foods retain symbolic value in Kazak culture.
Because animal husbandry was central to the Kazaks' traditional lifestyle, most of their nomadic practices and customs relate in some way to livestock. Traditional curses and blessings invoked disease or fecundity among animals, and good manners required that a person ask first about the health of a man's livestock when greeting him and only afterward inquire about the human aspects of his life.
Wedding rituals. Bride was the first to enter the yurt. She had to cross the threshold with her right foot and kick the left side of the yurta with the same foot. Groom followed, doing the same. A similar ritual existed among many Turkic and Persian-speaking peoples in Central Asia - bride and groom tried to step on each other feet after entering the yurta. To be the first in stepping on her/his foot was meant to win a dominating role at home.

Raising Children
Naming a baby. Kazakhs believe that the name of a person foretells and determines his/her future. Children were named by the names of their famous fathers and ancestors, with the names like Zhanibek, Abylai, Abai, Ybrai, or Shokan. There are also wishing names like Mynzhasar (live a thousand years), Zhuzbai ( a hundred years), and Toksanbai (ninety years) indicating the wish for a long and wealthy life. But there are also so-called «unpleasant» names like Kushikbai (puppy) or Ayubai (bear). This tradition has an explanation to it. In old times, when the medical knowledge was limited and life conditions were tough, babies death rate was quite high. Nomadic people tended to blame the evil forces and spirits for it. The idea was to give funny or strange names to babies (people would laugh when hearing them) as protection from evil spirits or evil people. An evil person or spirit would be distracted by the name of the child rather that pay attention to the child itself. This was common in families where babies had not survived. For this reason babies were also named Tursyn (may he live) or Toktasyn (may he stay). Families that had no boys gave the name to a girl with a certain wishful meaning: Ultuar, Ulbolsyn (may she be followed by a boy).

Kazakh National Games
Horses played a very important role for Kazakh people. Catch The Girl is a traditional horseracing game played in a large open field by a young girl and a young man. A landmark is set up at the racing distance as a finishing post. The girl begins the race by whipping her partner and galloping away towards the landmark. The man starts chasing her. If he succeeds in catching up with her before she reaches the landmark, he wins the right to embrace and kiss the girl while both are riding. Otherwise, the girl whips the «clumsy» man all the way back to the starting point. Usually, if the girl is interested in the young man, she chooses to slow down her horse for him to catch up with her. This game is a peculiar spectacle that draws crowds just as any other stage scene.
Suiynshi - the message of joyful news. When make «Suiynshi», all at once understand, that the man has come with a good news. And it is necessary to present a gift to one who brings news.

Koremdik
Koremdik from a word «Koru» - to look, to see. A gift, which is given for seen for the first time (young daughter-in- law, newborn, etc.). Meaning of the custom is not to take or to give a gift, but for expression of kind intentions of looking.

Zheti ana
Zheti apa - seven generations. All descendants of one grandfather up to the seventh knee are considered to be close relatives. The ancient custom requires to know seven generations of ancestors and forbids marriages inside of a clan.

Arasha
Arasha - exclamation to stop those who argues. If someone solves the dispute by fists and hears: « Arasha! «, « Arasha! «, he should immediately stop the scandal. The disobedience was strictly punished by the penalty.

Tokymkagar
Tokymkagar - custom for those who leave far away. It is necessary to kill the ram, to cover dastarkhan (celebratory table), to call the visitors. During the custom people sing songs and make wishes to one who leaves.

Shashu
Shashu - showering on. During joyful event (wedding, the courtship etc.) the originators of a celebration are thrown by sweets or money. Children with pleasure collect scattered sweets. The Kazakhs trust, that of the sweets which has been picked up in time of «Shashu» bring good luck.

Salemde
Salemde - mark of a greeting and respect. People who have not met for a long time give each other jewelry, souvenirs, entertainment. It is not necessary, that the thing is expensive, but memorable.

Bazarlyk - not so expensive things or memorable souvenirs. They are usually brought by a man who has returned from distant trip for his relatives and familiar.

Tyiym
Tyiym - Interdiction. The Kazakhs, as well as many other peoples have interdictions. For example, it is impossible to come on a threshold, to give relatives a knife or dog, it can result an enmity. To whistle in the house means to banish happiness and money. But there are also other interdictions - ethnic. For example, it is impossible to pass a road to the grown-up.

Kutty bolsyn aitu
Kutty bolsyn aitu - congratulation. It is ancient custom to speak « Kutty Bolsyn! « at significant event, for example, birth of a child. A traditional wish of a prosperity and well-being, mark of kind feelings and skill to be happy together.

Tize Bugu
Tize Bugu - to genuflect, to sit down. A mark of honor to a house. If a man has come in someone's house, he necessarily should sit down or genuflect, if no he can put indelible insult to the owner of a house, having stated the purpose of the visiting standing

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