Friday, February 19, 2010

Tsagaan Sar -- Celebrating the Lunar New Year

We throughly enjoyed Tsagaan Sar!  It's the celebration of the Lunar New Year.  It also starts getting warmer in Mongolia, so there is much to celebrate.  Tsagaan Sar or White Month (White Moon) is a wonderful three day holiday where people spend time together.  
The first day, they visit close family--especially their older relatives.  The second day, they visit extended family and the third day, they visit friends.  

Traditionally they meet first in the home of the oldest relative.  The eldest is greeted by each younger relative who says "Amar mend uu?" or "Amar bain uu?"  While the older relative holds a traditional blue scarf called a khadag, the younger  Mongolians greet their elder relatives by reaching under their arms and grasping the bottom of their elder's elbows in the palm of their of their hands to symbolize support for them. The older one then turns his arms over and sometimes kisses the younger on both cheeks. They also give gifts to each other.  They also give crisp Tugrug bills to the older people.  Sometimes, the closer they are, the more money they give. Sometimes departing guests are given a gift to take with them.  

Some of the the Traditional food served during Tsagaan Sar are:  mutton (sometimes presented with the sheep's head on the table), buuz (steamed dumplings filled with minced mutton), beef bones, rice with raisins, a pyramid of traditional cookies erected on a large dish in a special fashion called a ul boov (which means ball of your foot pastry) which they top with sugar cubes or rock sugar called yoton, white nuts called tsagaan samar, hard cookies made from milk called: aarul, urum, eezgii, khuruud, tsagaan tos (the big round cookie one on the top), and khailmag, a delicious potato salad, shredded carrot salad, hot salted milk and water called suutei tsaiairag (fermented mare's milk) and, of course, all kinds of candy.  

People also dress in their traditional Mongolian costumes to visit their friends and family.  When greeting an elder, it is considered polite and respectful to wear a hat. 

1 comment:

  1. What a sweet tradition. I am impressed with the tenderness of these people. They have a lot of respect for one another. I loved the pictures, especially the one with Richard in his cowboy hat. I love you. MOM