Abai Day is celebrated on August 10 every year in Kazakhstan. It’s the birth anniversary of Kazakh poet, philosopher, translator, and composer Abai Kunanbaiuly who was the founding historical figure of Kazakh modern literature. Some of his notable contributions include innovating Kazakh poetry and creating 170 poems and 56 translations. On this day, his life, legacy, and poetry are celebrated. What’s even more important is it encourages people, especially children, to explore their creative side and study prose and poetry. Learn more about the ways to celebrate Abai Day today.
History of Abai Day
Abai Kunanbaiuly was born on August 10, 1845, in Semey, Kazakhstan. His name meant ‘attentive’ or ‘careful’ in English and true enough, it reflected his attention to creativity when he grew up. He was homeschooled as a child, but as he grew older, he slowly transitioned to studying at a Russian school. During this time, he became acquainted with different creative minds such as poets, and novelists. It was at this moment that his passion for writing poetry was ignited. He learned different Oriental languages, as well as Western European literature. By the time he finished school, he wrote his first poems.
In the 1880s, he started doing translations for other writers. He worked with I.A. Krylova, A.S. Pushkin, Johann Goethe, and George Byron by translating their poems. He also translated Goethe’s ‘Night Song of the Wanderer’ into the Kazakh language, which eventually became the folk song ‘Mountains Doze in the Dark Night.’
One of Abai’s famous works is called the “Book of Words” or “Words of Edification.” This contains 45 parables that were so powerful that they greatly influenced Kazakhstan’s national outlook, education, law, and morality.
He continued to actively influence his country’s literature until his death on July 6, 1904. However, his impact posthumously continued in the early 20th century. A literary magazine called “Abai” was published from February to November 1918 in Kazakh and Russian languages in honor of his legacy.
Abai Day timeline
Abai Kunanbaiuly is born in Semey, Kazakhstan.
He starts writing poetry and prose and translating the poems of other writers.
Abai Kunanbaiuly dies at the peak of his great literary influence.
“The Abai Magazine” is posthumously published in honor of his legacy.
Abai Day FAQs
Where did Abai Kunanbaiuly die?
Abai Kunanbaiuly passed away in Semipalatinsk, which is now known as Abay District.
What is Abai Kunanbaiuly’s most notable achievement?
His most notable achievement is saving the Kazakh people through art during the era of nomadic civilization.
When did Abai Day start?
Abai Day was first celebrated on August 10, 2020.
How to Observe Abai Day
Read his poems
Abai’s poems are known to be socially relevant and enchanting. Read his book “The Book of Words” which contains poems, narratives, and stories about the sociopolitical climate of Kazakhstan.
Write a poem today
One of the many legacies of Abai was his power to influence a generation through writing. On this day, try to write a poem. It doesn’t have to be perfect — just write from the heart. That’s one of the best ways to celebrate Abai Day.
Visit the Kazakhstani Tenge
Visit the Kazakhstani Tenge, a subway station in Kazakhstan that was built in his honor. Take lots of pictures, post them on your social, and use the hashtag #AbayDay.
5 Interesting Facts About Abai Kunanbaiuly
Statues of Abai are erected globally
Statues of Abai are erected in different countries like France, Germany, Georgia, Turkey, and South Korea.
Qunanbai: a biopic of Abai
A film called “Qunanbai” depicts the life of Abai and was featured at the 12th Kazal International Muslim Film Festival.
His favorite poems
Some of his favorite poems were “Shahnameh” and “One Thousand and One Nights.”
Abai’s Poetry in the 2010s
In 2012, Abai’s Poetry made it to the top 10 downloads at the AppStore.
Alash Autonomy’s inspiration
He was the inspiration for the Alash Autonomy, a transcontinental autonomy between Central Asia and Eastern Europe.
Why Abai Day is Important
Poetry is a dying art form
In these modern times, it’s rare to find people who appreciate poetry. Abay Day allows everyone to study his works and appreciate his poems, which is a way to immortalize the importance of this dying art form.
He stands for national consciousness
Abay was not afraid to criticize his government, including the acts of corruption and enslavement. We celebrate a historical figure who stands up for the oppressed.
He is an unsung hero
While his achievements are unprecedented, not everyone in the world knows who Abai Kunanbaiuly is. Today’s the chance to highlight his legacy and put his works on a pedestal for the entire world to know.
Abai Day dates