Tsagaan Sar 2023
Tsagaan Sar which means ‘White Moon’ marks the first day of the Mongolian Lunar New Year, which typically falls in late January or early February. This celebration is a warm welcome for the upcoming arrival of spring, and the awakening of nature. This year, Tsagaan Sar takes place from February 21st to February 23rd!
The day before the New Year (February 20th) is called “Bituun” (it is also the phase of the lunar cycle where the moon is new, or the phase of the dark moon) and on this day preparations for the celebrations and gatherings begin. Inside their freshly deep-cleaned homes, Mongols gather to exchange greetings and gifts such as cheese and yogurt, as well as other traditional items like snuffboxes and belts. They have a large feast, enjoying their traditional food (which includes ‘buuz’, which is steamed meat dumplings and ‘khuushuur’, also known as deep-fried meat pastries), and drink. They wear their best traditional attire and engage in various cultural activities, such as playing games and performing traditional dances. Additionally, as they travel from home to home, they incite positivity and prosperity to each other to ensure an abundant and fruitful year and participate in spiritual rituals, such as visiting temples or offering prayers to ancestors.
After Tsagaan Sar, Mongolians traditionally observe several customs. One such custom is to welcome the first sunrise of the new year. Men climb to the nearest hilltop to witness it, while women offer milk tea at home as an offering to the earth and God for the health of their family. Although Tsagaan Sar officially lasts for three days, the first 15 days are considered significant. During this time, Mongolians prioritize visiting relatives, neighbors, and elders. Each visit is marked with a Zolgokh greeting, where two people extend their arms, and the younger person places their hands below the elder’s elbows as a sign of respect and support.
Beyond the food and clothing, Tsagaan Sar is a time for Mongolians to come together and celebrate their shared culture and history. The festival is an opportunity for people to honor their ancestors and to connect with their heritage. It is also a time for younger generations to learn about their traditions and customs from their elders, ensuring that these practices are passed down and preserved for future generations.
Moreover, Tsagaan Sar is a colorful and vibrant event promoting community spirit and strengthening social ties between families and generations. The act of visiting and exchanging greetings with relatives, neighbors, and elders, is a significant aspect of the festival, and it serves as a way to build and reinforce local relationships seamlessly, promoting a sense of belonging and mutual support within the community.
2023: The Year of the Black Rabbit
The 3rd of the 12 cyclical zodiac animals, each with unique characteristics. The animals are paired with 1 of 5 elements that also rotate over the years. The elements, metal, water, fire, wood, and earth, provide further unique traits to those born in that year. Those born in 1902, 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, and 2022 are believed to have strong interpersonal relationships and are very family oriented.
Fun Fact: The Rabbit zodiac sign repeats every 12 years, but a specific type of Rabbit year, the Black Rabbit year, only occurs every 60 years. This means that the last time the Year of the Black Rabbit occurred was in 1963.
Wishing a very happy Tsagaan Sar to our Mongolian brothers and sisters that we’ve had the pleasure of meeting along the way!
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