3. EVENTS, HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS

NOMADS WINTER: TSAGAAN SAR - MONGOLIAN LUNAR NEW YEAR

Organizer: Mongolian secret history - Travel company
Date: Early spring, every year
Venue: Mongolian secret history - complex
Ticket price: 60 USD (for exact price visit the website)

It is a centuries-old celebration and one steeped in the Buddhist religion, though most Mongolians of all beliefs observe the day in some fashion. The main celebrations last for three days, from the day before to the day after the new moon, but some keep up the festivities for as long as two weeks. Tsagaan Sar comes in January or February, the date varying from year to year. The reason for this is that Mongolia uses a combination solar-lunar calendar, which keeps Tsagaan Sar firmly in mid-winter.

 

In “Mongolian New Year’s Eve”, there are a number of rituals that Mongolians perform in order to bring good luck for the year to come. First, houses must be cleaned out thoroughly, which is often a day-long task. Candles are lit to symbolize enlightenment and to give light to any spirits who have “become Buddha” that might visit. Three chunks of ice are also left just outside the door, since the horse of Palden Lhamo, a Buddhist deity, visits every home on New Year’s Eve and will be thirsty. Finally, a family dinner is enjoyed in the evening, card games are played in the hopes of beginning a year-long good luck streak, debts are paid off, and grudges are forgiven.

 

On Lunar New Year itself, people visit their relatives, beginning with their parents and continuing in order of descending age. They make many short visits to dozens of relatives. Each time, special rituals are followed. The guests must ask the hostess, “Are you living in Peace?” The hostess kisses the guest’s cheeks, gives out a gift of money or vodka, and serves milk tea. Gifts may also be exchanged.

 

Some activities that tourist may wish to take part while in Mongolia for Lunar New Year:

Watch Mongolian wrestling competitions on TV, like many Mongolians do in their New Year’s Eve. In Mongolian folk wrestling, called “bukh,” the first person whose body touches the ground, other than the foot, loses. From the days of Chinggis khaan, wrestling of this sort has been an integral part of Mongolian culture.

 

Eat “Lunar New Year food,” including: “buuz” – a steamed dumpling – special cookies that are stacked in a pyramid, rice mixed with curds or raisins, sheep’s tail, horse meat, pastries filled with minced mutton, and a full side of sheep on the grill.

 

Buy and dress up in traditional nomadic clothes, called “deel,” which almost everyone wears this time of year. It is a large coat that overlaps in front to reach buttons on your shoulder and your side. Colourful designs are stitched on, and a long cloth belt is used. It is also customary to wear a fur hat and leather boots with curly toes with your deel.

 

Lunar New Year is a time when Mongolians celebrate in the midst of a cold, long winter, looking forward to the spring. It is also a time when tourists learn and enjoy many interesting facets of Mongolian culture.




Nomads winter - Tsagaan sar festival’s programs:


Tsagaan Sar’s Eve - Bituun’s day

  • Arrive at the “Mongolian Secret History” travel complex
  • Tea and coffee
  • Visit the Ger library to learn about Mongolian literature, heritage and culture
  • Visit to the statue of Shaman, “Tev Tenger”, listen stories about the fascinating customs of ancient shamanism and enter to the urts, shaman wigwam.
  • Taste the Mongolian milk vodka
  • Enjoy skiing
  • Lunch
  • Play Mongolian folk games (Learn how to play with anklebones and compete in the following, exciting games such as Mongolian puzzle game, Alag Melkhi or multicolored turtle, catching anklebones, anklebones horse racing, anklebones flicking etc)
  • Visit a true nomadic, local herder’s family and help, experience in preparing traditional food buuz, bansh (Mongolian dumplings) which are Bituun’s main meal.
  • Take a part in preparation of the Tsagaan Sar’s table dish and complete Bituun’s custom
  • Dinner
  • Traditional folk music performance
  • Mongolian national costume show


The first day of the Tsagaan sar

  • Before sunrise you will walk your first steps of the New Year as prescribed by Mongolian traditional beliefs. Each person has a different ritual to perform depending on their birth year and month.
  • Breakfast
  • Look at the first sunshine of the New Year from the top of  a mountain, the ovoo
  • Offer the best to the heaven of  mountains and rivers
  • Visit a local herder’s family on the first day of the Lunar New Year
  • learn traditional Mongolian new year greeting customs and experience it
  • Have traditional dish
  • Help to herd livestocks in nomadic ways
  • Archery performance
  • Photos with camel and horse riding
  • Enjoy horse racing
  • Lunch
  • Photos in traditional costumes of the ancient warriors, queens and shaman
  • Learn traditional Mongolian dances “Zadgai tsagaan”, “Khumuun turlukhtun”
  • Dinner
  • Enjoy a documentary movie about Mongolian people’s daily life and culture


The second day of the Tsagaan Sar

  • Breakfast
  • Price: 60 USD= 116.280 MNT per person (the price might change every year and includes breakfast, excludes transport to and from the complex, accommodation and meals. Possible to car service)


We hope that you enjoy our Lunar New Year!

Web site: http://www.mongoliansecrethistory.mn