New Year's is a big holiday here. The locals somehow make it last an entire week. Everyone has a decorated Christmas tree (yulta) for New Year's. They look exactly like our Christmas trees. And for some reason, Santa Claus (Ded Morose, which translates as Grandfather Frost) is a part of the New Year's celebration. Helping old Grandfather Frost is his grandaughter, little snow girl (Snickarichka). My host brother asked me if Americans also have a little snow girl. I felt like a complete idiot explaining that we didn't have a little snow girl, but we have little men. Sometimes when you try explaining cultural matters in a foreign language, it just ends up sounding really stupid.
My host family killed a sheep on New Year's eve. The grandparents pulled up in a taxi, and out popped the sheep (still alive) from the trunk. They took the sheep out back, laid it on the ground, the grandfather said a Muslim prayer, and then they slit its throat. They asked me if I wanted to take a picture of the sheep bleeding out its life, but I declined. Once they took the stomach out of the sheep, it's overall size shrank dramatically. Definitely, when picking out your sheep at the market, you have to keep in mind that the owner might have just fed it a lot of hay, thus making it seem fatter than it truly is. I'll have to add that to my list of Things I Learned in Kyrgyzstan. Also, if you kill the sheep yourself, you have to clean the intestines out yourself — which involves pushing crap pellets out of a long tube.
The first serving of sheep parts consisted entirely of the innards — liver, stomach, intestines, and other wiggly bits. I really tried to eat it, but it did not taste good. They didn't cook it with any spices. Everything was boiled in a big pot, with maybe an onion and some salt for flavor. I wouldn't recommend this recipe. Thankfully, since I'm not male, I wasn't offered the sheep's eyeballs.
After midnight, everyone went outside (in the freezing cold!) and the kids shot off fireworks. It was one of those moments where I realized what safety freaks Americans are. I would never place a rocket in a 4 year old kid's hand and trust the kid not to aim it at people or power lines.