June 23 – Sabantuy (AKA the Festival of the Plow)

Posted June 23, 2013

Did you ever wonder what “tartar” means in tartar sauce? Or “tartare,” in steak tartare?

Well, the Tatars are a group of people who live in Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. During the time of the USSR, most Tatars lived in the Soviet Union, but when that nation broke up, many Tatars found themselves living in various different countries: most in the Russian Federation, but many in Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. Tartar (with an extra R) was another name for this group of people.

One of the important festivals for the Tatars is Sabantuy, a celebration of the fact that plowing is over and crops are growing. The festival is marked by music, dancing, exhibitions, and games of skill or speed, balance or strength.

There are lots of races: horse racing, rack-in-a-sack, egg-in-spoon-in-mouth races, and more.

Here's a great game: two men sit perched on a log that is several feet above the ground; they hit each other in the head with bags of straw until one of them falls off. (Don't try this at home, kids!)

Other contests include pillar climbing, finding a coin in sour milk, and my personal favorite—pot smashing!

There is a special kind of Tatar wrestling that is central to the festival. Competitors use towels and try to knock each other to the ground. There is a prize for the ultimate winner of all the wrestling matches during the festival: in a village the prize might be a ram, and in a city, it might be a car.

This is a long-hair contest held during the festival.

Also on this date:

Anniversary of Antarctica being set aside for science

Plan ahead:

Check out my Pinterest pages on June holidayshistorical anniversaries in June, and June birthdays.

And here are my Pinterest pages on July holidayshistorical anniversaries in July, and July birthdays.

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