Friday, January 9, 2009

Winter of Mongolia

    Nine Nines of Winter
    While reference books speak of a six-month long winter with temperatures falling below - 30oC in January and February, and Ulaanbaatar city being the coldest capital of the world, Mongols know all the better. According to ancient knowledge, winter in Mongolia actually lasts 81 days, or Nine Nines as they are known. The signs of the Nine Nines are familiar to everyone, starting with the maiden day of winter or the first moon of mid-November, 81 days before the Lunar New Year which brings in the first day of spring.

    First nine - shimijn arkhi (mild alcoholic beverage made of milk) congeals
    Second nine - arkhi (vodka) congeals
    Third nine - tail of three-year-old ox freezes
    Fourth nine - horns of four-year-old ox freeze
    Fifth nine - boiled rice does not congeal any more
    Sixth nine - roads blacken
    Seventh nine - hilltops blacken
    Eighth nine - ground becomes damp
    Ninth nine - warm days set in
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