With this article we embark on a series of “Travel Notes” by the folk musician and journalist Maria Kirilova. Maria kindly suggested writing travel notes for tyva.me during a trip to Tuva this year for the celebration of Shagaa, which is the festival of Tuvan New Year. Maria will share her insights about the sternly beautiful winter of Tuva, how the Tuvinians survive in the -40 degree frosts, how the Shagaa is celebrated, and what is sung in the winter folk songs.

Author: Maria Kirilova

Greetings to all who are interested in Tuva! My name is Maria, and I share your passion. Russia is so vast that no one person can know everything about the country. Many people have not even heard of Tuva. Compared to the whole of our coutry, the territory of an area of 168.6 square kilometres can be easily lost. But this land is truly legendary!

I still do not quite understand why I chose Tuva in particular, but it seems that it chose me. Since I was first in Tuva two and a half years ago, I could not stop thinking about its amazing people and natural landscapes. A lot happened during the first and most chaotic visit. Nowadays my role is the journalist and musician of the band “Raven” (Moscow, folk metal).

Indeed, the annual music festival Ustuu-Huree popularised trips to the republic. Yet few have seen the Tuvan steppe in the snow? The fluffy snowy hills, their soft enveloping edges make you vie to see them again and again. Without visiting Tuva in winter, it is impossible to understand the Tuvans themselves, whose life is not only a continuous summer holiday, but one that forces to answer questions of survival on an annual basis.

I’m going to Tuva in February to celebrate Shagaa. Shagaa is the Tuvan New Year holiday, celebrated in Buddhist and shamanic traditions. A New Year date is appointed annually by lamas. For Tuvans, it is one of the most important holidays of the year, when all close people, even living in different kozhuuns, try to meet, have a good night and joyfully meet dawn. The New Year begins with the sunrise.

For those who want to learn about rituals, traditions and special white foods that are both eaten and sacrificed on this sacred day, I will describe every day of my trip in detail, not missing any joys or anxieties, hopefully inspiring fellow travellers.

I am writing series of notes and articles about this trip, and some of them will be released on tyva.me. I express my gratitude to the site’s team and to everyone who will follow the course of my trip.

With love, Maria.


Written by airamo