Every 16 December is Independence Day in Kazakhstan to commemorate the day in 1991 when Kazakh SSR declared its independence from the USSR. As it was the last of the soviet republics to leave the union, this marked the “official death day” of the USSR.
The history of Kazakhstan from the 1700’s till the mid-1800’s had been one of constant loss of territory to Russian invaders, until the whole of modern Kazakhstan was conquered. So when Russia was taken over by the Bolsheviks in 1917, Kazakhstan was ultimately brought under their sway, after first being the scene of battles in the civil war between “Red and White Russians”.
The first president of Kazakhstan after independence was a hold-over from Communist days, but later, the country moved in a more democratic direction.
On Independence Day, there are special festive events in the presidential palace of Ak Orda. In other parts of the country, people will don traditional Kazakh garb and pitch a yurt, which is a decorative Kazakh tent. People will then eat meals of horse-meat and other dishes in the yurt. They will also exchanged gifts and visit and converse in the yurt.
Finally, there are also many festive games played on Independence Day, and many will attend horse races.