Kazakhstan is celebrating the Day of the Unity of the People on May 1. It is a time for citizens to come together to recognize the country’s diversity and promote social cohesion.
For many citizens of Kazakhstan, this holiday represents the values of friendship and solidarity, mutual respect and trust.
Aizhan Zhakenova, 58, a restaurateur, said in an interview with The Astana Times this day encourages active cultural engagement among the 130 ethnic groups in Kazakhstan.
“The celebration has evolved over time. Previously, there were mostly solemn marches on the streets. Today, ethnic unity and friendly relations manifest through celebrations by Kazakh citizens of each other’s customs and traditions, thereby creating a common cultural space,” she said.
People from many ethnic groups gather on this day to participate in cultural events, concerts, and parades. Of particular importance is the involvement of many ethnocultural centers in this event, which allows attendees to become acquainted with the traditions and customs of various ethnic groups.
Amid the tragic events happening throughout the globe and in neighboring countries, this holiday has taken on new significance for many citizens of Kazakhstan. Psychotherapist Fatima Arynova, 42, hopes all Kazakh citizens remember that peaceful coexistence is fragile and requires continual support from every member of society.
“When we talk about multiethnic societies, we see how fragile the peace can be. I hope each member of the Kazakh society, regardless of ethnicity, strives to be sensible and do everything in their power to ensure the harmonious coexistence we have been enjoying continues and strengthens,” she said.
Paul Pullinger, a British citizen who has been living in Kazakhstan for five years, says the Day of Unity is a reminder that, despite any differences, Kazakh citizens are all part of one family.
“I have discovered it is a country of many peoples, each with unique traditions and customs. Together they form a unique Kazakh nation. The United Kingdom is similar as it is home to people from many countries in the Commonwealth and around the world, and there is widespread acceptance of each other’s different heritage and languages,” he said.
Pullinger highlighted that welcoming guests and strangers with open arms and in peace is a key feature of the nomadic history of Kazakhstan.
“I hope this ancient tradition of hospitality and acceptance continues and grows stronger in modern Kazakhstan,” he added.