Kazakhstan’s First President's Day – December 1, 2021

First President’s Day in Kazakhstan is celebrated annually on December 1, commemorating the conduction of the country’s first presidential elections after the fall of the Soviet Union. It is usually a government-declared public holiday that would still be observed on the next working day should the date fall on a weekend. Did you know that the constitution of Kazakhstan was amended by its parliament on two occasions to allow the first democratically elected president to stay longer in office?

History of Kazakhstan’s First President's Day

The official name of the holiday is the Day of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and it is in remembrance of the country’s first presidential elections after the fall of the Soviet Union, and also in honor of Kazakhstan’s first-ever President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, for his contributions to the development and stability of the country.

Nazarbayev’s three decades’ long term as president was made possible when the nation’s parliament deemed it fit to adjust the constitution of the country that forbade any president from serving more than two five-year terms in office, to allow him to stay for as long as he wishes because of his tremendous contribution to the progress and development of Kazakhstan. And although the day was instituted in December 2011, not until the following year was it first celebrated countrywide.

According to history, after the Soviet Union broke up and Kazakhstan became the last Soviet Socialist Republic to declare its independence, the country proceeded to elect Nursultan Nazarbayev (a recognized leader who had already been in government since 1989) as its first president, with the vision to move the country toward a bright future of economic prosperity.

Usually, to kickstart the event, since First President’s Day is a major holiday celebrated in the country, fireworks are shot into the sky and a documentary of Nursultan Nazarbayev would usually be televised.

Kazakhstan’s First President's Day timeline

1940
Nazarbayev is Born

Nursultan Nazarbayev is born in Chemolgan, a rural town near Almaty.

1962
Nazarbayev Joins the Communist Party

Nazarbayev joins the Communist Party as a stranger in politics, in 1962, before moving on to becoming a prominent member of the party, until his election as president.

1990
Break-Out of the Soviet Union

Kazakhstan declares its sovereignty on its territory as a republic within the Soviet Union, on October 25, 1990, and after a failed coup to overthrow the Soviet leader in Moscow in 1991, the country declares its total independence.

2012
First President’s Day Celebration

Kazakhstan’s First President’s Day is instituted in December 2011 and is first celebrated countrywide in 2012.

Kazakhstan’s First President's Day FAQs

Who started the President’s Day holiday?

The parliament of Kazakhstan passed a law that was signed by its president to initiate the First President’s Day as a day to mark the occurrence of the country’s first presidential elections after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Do people go to work on First President’s Day?

Most government agencies in Kazakhstan go on holiday to observe the First President’s Day. Post Offices, government institutions, and schools are typically closed. Retail and grocery stores stay open, but with limited service. 

What is the religion of Kazakhstan?

Kazakhs are predominantly Muslims, making up to 90% of the population.

How To Observe First President's Day

  1. Join the fireworks display

    There’s no better way to feel the same joy Kazakhs feel on this day than to join in on the large fireworks that’s usually on display throughout the country. Witness Kazakhs demonstrate their love for their country.

  2. Watch historical documentaries

    Documentaries are a great way to see how events played out in the past. Watch one of several documentaries detailing events around Kazakhstan’s independence, its elections, and its subsequent declaration of a day to celebrate its first president.

  3. Talk about it on social media

    Share the findings and opinions you have about the day on social media to boost awareness and generate discussion. Use the hashtags #FirstPresidentDay #PresidentsDay.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Nursultan Nazarbayev And First President's Day

  1. He was in leadership before the election

    Nursultan Nazarbayev had been the leader of Kazakhstan since 1989 when he was named First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Kazakh S.S.R.

  2. He voluntarily resigned

    Kazakhstan’s First President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, announced he was stepping down from the post he had held ever since the country gained its independence, just three months after a previous First President’s Day celebration.

  3. There is usually an elaborate celebration

    As part of the festivities, there’s usually a fireworks show and live broadcast of a short documentary featuring rare archive photos from Nazarbayev’s years in office.

  4. His first election victory was a landslide

    In Kazakhstan’s first-ever presidential election, Nursultan Nazarbayev was elected as president, after garnering over 78% of votes cast.

  5. The constitution was amended for him

    Although the constitution of Kazakhstan states that the president should only serve a maximum of two five years' terms, in 2007, the Parliament of Kazakhstan approved a constitutional amendment that allowed only Nazarbayev to serve for as long as he wanted.

Why First President's Day Is Important

  1. Highlights the impacts of historical events

    First President’s day is an opportunity for us to learn about moments in history that shaped Kazakhstan. Celebration of the day highlights the people, places, and events that form the fabric of the country.

  2. Helps recognize the role of past leaders

    Presidents play crucial roles in the development of policies, and they oversee the executions of nationwide initiatives that are usually meant to improve the people's standard of living. First President's Day helps us recognize these and many other contributions successive presidents have made to the country's growth and development.

  3. Sharpens our knowledge of Kazakhstan history

    Yes! Since First President's Day serves to honor and highlight the contribution of Nursultan Nazarbayev and even his successors, it encourages us to further learn about past events that have defined the country and sharpen our knowledge of history.

Kazakhstan’s First President's Day dates

YearDateDay
2021December 1Wednesday
2022December 1Thursday
2023December 1Friday
2024December 1Sunday
2025December 1Monday

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