16 Feb Mongolia. The Nine Nines
Mongolia has a very extreme continental climate, it is so far from the sea that this cannot exercise its moderating influence. Only in summer the clouds cover the sky, that’s why it is knows as “The land of blue sky”, but not in the capital, unfortunately.
Mongolia is one of the coldest countries in the world. Temperatures usually start to drop below zero degrees celsius in October, they reach -40 in January and February, they remain below zero until late April; the atmospheric conditions can change quickly in summer too: you can easily go from wearing sandals and a T-shirt, to wearing a jacket and a woollen jumper.
To pass the cold winter Mongolians, starting from 22nd December, start counting the days nine by nine till they reach 81 days, and every nine days something special happens.
What happens during these 9 nines?
In the first nine, the vodka, distilled at home in a traditional way without water, freezes.
In the second nine, the traditional vodka called “Khorz”, which has a higher alcohol content than the previous, freezes.
In the third nine, the horns of the three year old veal (calf) freeze.
In the fourth nine, the horns of the four year old calf freeze,
In the fifth nine, the rice left outside the gher no longer freezes.
In the sixth nine, the earth is uncovered from the ice, slowly slowly.
In the seventh nine, the high part of the hills becomes brown.
In the eigth nine, the ice on the roads melts.
In the ninth nines, temperatures rise and it is warm again.