Uzbekistan, Tajikistan Greet Holidays With Bans

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As the festive season approaches, authorities in Central Asia are getting into the spirit of the Grinch with their characteristically joy-killing edicts and bans.

In Tajikistan, the Education Ministry has banned putting up New Years trees in schools, according to a report by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Tajik service, Radio Ozodi.

“Cutting down Ne Years trees, or putting them up and decorating them, the use of fireworks and pyrotechnics, and giving gifts and fundraising for New Year celebrations by students is strictly prohibited,” education minister Nuriddin Said was cited as saying by Radio Ozodi.

Instead of holding celebrations, schools are being encouraged to mount displays, as well literary and sporting events, to celebrate the festive end of year season.

Meanwhile, in the historic city of Samarkand, in Uzbekistan, restaurants and bars have been banned from opening past 11 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. Local news site Samarkandsky Vestnik also reported on December 15 that authorities have insisted that parties to mark the arrival of the new year should include no more than 400 guests.

“Considering that the New Year is a family holiday and that everybody should celebrate it within their family circle, on December 31 all dining establishments will be closed,” the website reported.

The battle against foreign-flavored features of the festive season are cast as a rearguard action against the creeping influence of nontraditional customs and values.

In earlier years, there has been speculation in Tajikistan of a possible ban on the appearances of Father Frost — the post-Soviet world’s answer to Father Christmas — on state television.

Father Frost, or Ded Moroz as he is known in Russian, got the chop in Uzbekistan in 2012 after authorities ordered television executives to keep the chuckling gift-giver from the country’s screens.

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