Амар байна уу? (Amar baina uu?),
“Are you living peacefully?
As middle Tennessee welcomes warm spring weather, on the other side of the world Mongolians are celebrating the Lunar New Year ( Цагаан сар – Tsagaan Sar, which quite literally translates into ‘White Moon’)
Ширээ дүүрэн идээтэй
Сэтгэл дүүрэн жаргалтай
Сар шинэдээ сайхан шинэлээрэй! 🌙
Tsagaan Sar is a 3 day holiday that celebrate the New Lunar Year; Families gather in the eldest members home. Neighbors visit one another throughout the days; Hosting or playing guest; Eating traditional Mongolian dumplings, бууз (buuz), drinking vodka and exchanging New Years greetings and gifts.
When greeting anyone older than you, they will be sitting and you will stand, arms reached out, the younger of the two will put their hands under the others elbows while sniffing each others cheeks. Showing a sign of support and holding a Khadag.
Weeks leading up to the celebration, Mongolians prepare the dumplings and freeze them in their natural outdoor freezer. A common question before leaving for the holidays, “how many buuz did you make?” (Usually in the high 100s to over 1000)
After the 3ish days are finished, many people ask, “how many buuz did you eat?” I think a friend of mine (who is still living in Mongolia as a private school teacher) ate close to 30 buuz in one day … something seen as an honor by Mongolians. And by foreigners, as a sign of, “you poor thing, how sick did you get?”
I say 3ish, because if you have not visited some coworkers or distant friends, you will still be greeted with a plate of dumplings 🥟 and vodka throughout the first few weeks of the new year.
Ул Боов – a stack of fried bread (Boov) and aaruul (dried cheese curds) in a circular shape, of uneven numbers to represent good luck. Ul quite litterally translates into Mountain. Candy and dairy is stacked on top of the ul boov, and it is traditional for a visitor to touch the side as respect and take a piece from the top.
Also seen in the photo above, traditional Mongolian Snuff Bottles (хөөрөг – khoorog). These are typically owned by men or elders of the family. Passed to everyone who visits to enjoy. Passing them in a respectful gesture, palm up and your hand under your right elbow.
Early in the morning, the women of the family go outside and offer milk to the sky, while the men hike (now drive) to the highest mountain peak to watch the sun 🌞 rise and pray for new year beginnings.
As an outsider, the traditions that this holiday holds is beautiful to experience. Families gather, children are adored, elders are respected and celebration flows.
I wish all the best to all my friends and family in Mongolia, Happy White Moon. Cheers to a beautiful new year! 🥂