A lot of the traditions of Mongolia were made illegal during the Communist era. Even though since independence in the early 1990’s Mongolia has had to forge and reforge its identity, a lot of the banned older customs and social rules have returned and still remain an inherent part of 21st Century Mongolian life. However, some are so integrated into everyday life that it can be hard for visitors to tell that they exist.
One tradition that most travellers come across and that remains at the core of rural life in Mongolia is ‘khoorog’ – the passing and receiving of the snuff bottle.
Passing a snuff bottle is seen as a formal occasion. If given, always try to remember to accept it with your right hand and with an open palm. You may take a pinch of snuff or just sniff the bottle’s top. Before passing the bottle to another person, you should offer it back to its owner. Do not replace the cap firmly before passing the bottle back – simply leave it resting on top of the bottle, with the snuff blade inside.