"I could never resist the call of the trail" - Buffalo Bill

TSAGAAN SAR

The harsh climate of Mongolia in winter often discourages travelers, who fear to face cold as low as -30°C. However, the period of Tsagaan Sar, the Mongolian New Year, is particularly conductive to a trip to Mongolia, for the rich traditions that accompany this very important family celebration.

The White Moon holiday is celebrated two months after the first new moon following the winter solstice.  After Naadam, Tsagaan Sar is the second-most important Mongolian holiday. Around the New Year people greet each other by saying “Amar mend uu”, a very formal greeting which one says to one’s elders. Mongols also visit friends and family on this day and exchange gifts.

A typical Mongolian family will meet in the home dwelling of the eldest male in the family. When greeting their elders during the White Moon festival, Mongols grasp them by their elbows to show support for them. The eldest male receives greetings from each member of the family except for his wife. During the greeting ceremony, family members hold long pieces of colored cloth called khadag.  After the ceremony, the family eats buuz and drinks airag (fermented mare’s milk) and exchanges gifts.

The day before Tsagaan Sar is called “Bituun”. On this day, families gather together–immediate family usually, in contrast to the large feast gatherings of White Moon day–and see out the old year. Traditionally, Mongols settle all issues and repay all debts from the old year by this day. Mongols eat their fill at the Bituun meal, as tradition says that if you are hungry after Bituun you will be hungry for the whole coming year.

Traditional food for the festival includes a grilled side of sheep and minced beef or minced lamb steamed inside pastry, a dish known as buuz. Tsagaan Sar is a lavish feast, requiring preparation days in advance, as the women make large quantities of buuz and freeze them to save for the holiday.

Symbolism of Tsagaan Sar
Tsagaan Sar is what might be called the Mongolian New Year. It is set according to the lunar calendar, in connection with the Tibetan Losar, usually in January or February.
Tsagaan Sar means "White Month", which begins with the new moon rising.
The night before the day of Tsagaan Sar is called Bituun, the Mongolian name of the new moon (the lunar phase corresponding to when the moon is black).
You can see a symbolism of rebirth, "rebirth" of the new moon evoking the birth of the new year.

Tsagaan Sar traditions and rituals
Many traditions are associated with this symbolism and aim to start the new year auspiciously, the way we started the year is deemed to influence the course of it. Thus, all Mongols spend the evening of Bituun with their family, eat as much as possible to ensure that the coming year is "rich". For the same reason, everybody dress in new and the finest possible clothes.

A trip to Mongolia during the week after Tsagaan Sar is always colorful, even the inhabitants of Ulan Bator wearing their finest traditional deel. Ritual offerings are made on the morning of Tsagaan Sar, just outside of the yurt, and close to ovoos.
Throughout the week after Tsagaan Sar, cadets salute their elders respectfully in a hug as they support their arms.
These meetings also give opportunity to the traditional exchange of snuff boxes. All Mongolian people visit their family and friends to present their wishes, this is a period when everyone is moving much.

Culinary specialties of the period of Tsagaan Sar
Tsagaan Sar is a period of intense conviviality and social life, each family prepares several days in advance hundreds of buuz, traditional ravioli with meat. They will be offered to friends who presented their vows. Buuz quality is hotly discussed and compared, and it is a question of honor for the family, no question, therefore, to buy them all made at the supermarket! The traditional Tsagaan Sar table also shows a kind of "cake", the Shiniin Idee. It is very important to honor it. To take something from the Shiniin Idee, touch the base with your left hand and use the right hand.

Venue: Throughout Mongolia
The White Moon is the nation wide holiday, celebrated as a greeting of the end of severe winter and beginning of spring time, when nature and people awaken and are inspired for new life and deeds. On "Shiniin Negen", the first day of Lunar New Year everybody wear their best Deel, traditional clothes and go to visit the oldest person in the family in order to give the respect and wish the best.
The first greeting of the year is expressed through very specific ritual gestures and mutual salutations. Under this ritual as called "Zolgokh", the oldest person places, his or her arms out straight, with the palms turned down, on the outstretched arms of the youngest person, and both pronounce traditional formulae of good wishes as "Amar mend uu? Sar shinedee saikhan shinelej baina uu? – Mend ee, ta saikhan shinelej baina uu?" while gently touching cheeks. This gesture indicates that the elder can count on the support and respect of the younger.
Traditional food for the festival includes "Uuts" a grilled side with big fat tail of sheep, "Ul boov" traditional pastry and dish "Buuz", steamed dumpling. Tsagaan Sar is a lavish feast, requiring preparation days in advance, as the family members make large quantities of Buuz and freeze them to save for the holiday.
Based on our community based tourism network we offer our clients a wide range of opportunity to involve in the preparation of Tsagaan Sar and learn all customs, experience the fantastic celebrations in real nomad way.
 



 

TSAGAAN SAR

Book this trip or customize to fit your needs

BOOKING FORM

TSAGAAN SAR

Duration: 3 days /2 nights
Date: February
Transport: 4WD Jeep/Van
Individual: 1-3 pax
Small group: 4-6 pax


Day-by-day Itinerary

Day 1
        Ulaanbaatar city, Bituun day (Tsagaan Sar Eve)
Early morning visit Gandan Monastery light a zul(Candle) for 1st day of lunar new year. pray and make wishes. Drive to Terelj National Park, we will visit nomadic family. Usually Mongolia people prepare to Tsagaan sar holiday in this day. There you can see them preparing for the holiday. Tonight family members get together and the main dish is steamed dumpling (Buuz). Mostly relatives come to join, bringing Buuz and join the family. Today everyone should get packed in their stomach. Overnight in the tourist camp.

Day 2        Terelj NP, Tsagaan sar 1st day
Today we wake up at 6.00-7.00 o’clock in the morning before sun goes up. According to do the tradition you should make a new years direction and pray for the sacred mountain and Mother Nature. As Mongolian tradition, today people wear new national clothes /deel/, and go for greeting with the oldest family member /grandparents/. Their grandparents kiss and greet young and old people, grandchildren. This is called Zolgolt (Greeting). They chat with relatives, eat national foods, drink /Airag / mare’s milk, play ankle bone shooting /national game/. After this we may visit another family by riding horses. Stay Overnight in the tourist camp.

Day 3        Tsagaan sar 2nd day, Horse ride in Terelj
Today we will wonder around the Terelj National Park on the horseback. We will ride a bit and visit and greet to some other families with our host family. This afternoon drive back to Ulaanbaatar. Overnight at the 3 star hotel.

SERVICE INCLUDES
Accommodation in basic ger next to nomadic family, meals according to Itinerary, private 4WD vehicle with experienced driver, local taxes, guide/translator speaking language per your preference.

SERVICE EXCLUDES
Accommodation in Ulaanbaatar, beverages, personal expenses and gratuities.

Total Cost:
Individual: US$

Small Group: US$

TSAGAAN SAR

Book this trip or customize to fit your needs

BOOKING FORM

TSAGAAN SAR

TSAGAAN SAR

Book this trip or customize to fit your needs

BOOKING FORM