It was in the -30’s Celsius (-20’s Fahrenheit) when we left for school this morning. Winter in Mongolia starts earlier, lasts longer, and is much colder than where we lived in Michigan. Mongolians have many practical adaptions to help them survive and thrive in cold, long winter. One of those adaptions is looking at winter through the lens of the “nine nines.”
The Nine Nines begin the day after winter solstice and measure the next 81 days (9 sets of 9 days) that mark the coldest season in Mongolia. This year the Nine Nines began on December 22, 2018 and run through March 12, 2019. We created a paper chain to help us mark the nine nines and to remind us that spring, with its warmer weather and clearer air, is on its way.
Here’s a traditional explanation of how cold each 9 will be…
First Nine (December 22- December 30)
Mongolian vodka freezes (Mongolian vodka is made from milk).
Second Nine (December 31-January 8)
Regular vodka freezes
Third Nine (January 9 through January 17)
Horns (or maybe the tail) of three year old oxen freeze and fall off.
Forth Nine (January 18-January 26)
Horns of the four year old oxen freeze and fall off.
Fifth Nine (January 27-February 4)
Boiled rice will not freeze
Sixth Nine (February 5-February 13)
You can begin to see the roads from under the snow.
Seventh Nine (February 14-February 22)
Snow on the hilltops begins to melt.
Eighth Nine (February 23-March3)
ground becomes muddy
Ninth Nine (March 4-March 12)
warmer days come