Tsagaan sar

Tsagaan sar, Lunar New Year

There is a common practice that the people around the world celebrate the New Year and farewell to the passing year. The oriental people celebrate the New Year a bit late than Europeans. Since the 13th century, the Mongols used to celebrate New Year in autumn and called it originally “White Month”. From 1206 or the Year of White Tiger when the Great Mongolian State was proclaimed, Tsagaan Sar or New Year celebration has moved to spring. On the first occasion of Tsagaan sar Chinggis Khaan awarded 88 persons of outstanding merits, who had significantly contributed to the deeds of the state. Since then, it becomes a tradition that khan, or later the State Head awards persons deserving merits and remits the criminals. Tsagaan Sar is celebration of getting through the winter in plenty and seeing in spring, as well as it’s the everybody’s Birthday celebration. The preparations for Tsagaan Sar Celebration are made long ahead and there is no worries about overload. While Tsagaan Sar approaches, people get prepared with new clothes, clean up their dwelling and pens, and get ready with small gifts and confectionary “to pay sweetener” of the guests.

What is “Bituun”?

Mainly, the 30th of the last month of lunar calendar year is called “bituun”. When star come out in the sky, every household begins preparing food. Tidbits are placed on a dish an uneven number of considerations of the rules that people’s suffering and happiness take turns. There are some specific customs practiced by people in the evening “Bituun”. The households prepare dumpling type of food such as buuz and bansh, both are meat dumplings, cook an intact sheep’s head with the chin-bone and tongue still in place, make offerings to the God as sacrifice and break open a marrow-bone. This is called “Bituurekh”. In bituun one needs”to eat repletion” or to have enough food. This symbolizes plenty of food and full belly in the coming New Year. In Bituun households place on the food-table a sheep’s car case and cow breast-bone. The car case tail is to be decorated by butter extracted from milk by churning or from cream by heating and its leftovers. Other pieces of meat need to be arranged according to the practiced rules. The neighbors exchange bituun food. Everybody eats, the elderly sprinkle an offering of spirit. Children and youth enjoy themselves while playing ankle-bone. On this day people avoid wander around going from ger to ger, to beat their children, to get dogs whining, to talk to each other loudly from inside to outside ger, to go out of ger with one’s mouth full and without wiping it off, and to take off medicine without being seriously sick.

First day of Tsagaan Sar and some tradition of holiday

In the first morning of Tsagaan Sar young and old alike get up early, take some food, tea, table or mat etc and go to ‘ovoo’ cairn erected as shrine or to an eminence, and have ceremony such as praying to the heavens and making a ritual start in a prescribed direction at New York. From there, they go to give New York greetings to their parents, brothers, sisters, relatives and neighbors in order of age. People great each other in a unique way. The younger people vow to the elderly and cross their hands under the hands of older people supporting their elbow, with an offer of ‘Hadag’, a blue scarf as token of respect. Thereafter, the guests have a seat and exchange snuff-bottled in greeting and say have you got through the winter in plenty and seeing at spring well. With these traditional New Year greetings they encourage each other. When the elderly offer a round of drinking and singing, long songs “Bogd Chinggis Khaan”, “Heaven’s wind”, “Stupa height” are performed in chorus and couple of drinks can be consumed. Then the guests say ‘many visit ahead, long distances to go, horses get frosted’, and mount their horses to continue their visit. Another practice is people observe signs of the coming year from dawntill dark during the first day of Tsagaan Sar. For example a slow break of day at dawn and crystal-clear cloudless sky at sunrise symbolizes a fortunate year for babies and little ones. People avoid to doing sewing, to stay overnight away home, to weep, to quarrel, to throw ash and rubbish everywhere, to go for water, to lie down and sleep during day time. Historically, Tsagaan Sar has been always the most honored celebration as it has to do with all, young and old alike.

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