Tsagaan Sar

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Tsagaan Sar
Cagancar.jpg
Also calledLunar New Year (as a collective term including other Asian Lunar New Year festivals, used outside of Asia.)
Mongolian New Year
Mongol New Year
Cagaan Sar
Observed byMongolia, Buryatia, Inner Mongolia, Kalmykia, Altai, Sakha (Yakutia) and regions in the Arctic.
TypeCultural (Mongolian and Arctic)
Religious (Buddhist and Shamanist)
SignificanceNew Year holiday
2018 date16 February, Dog
2019 date5 February, Pig
2020 date25 January, Rat
2021 date12 February, Ox
FrequencyAnnual
Related toChinese New Year, Japanese New Year, Tibetan New Year, Korean New Year, Vietnamese New Year
Tsagaan Sar meal

The Mongolian Lunar New Year, commonly known as Tsagaan Sar (Mongolian: Цагаан сар, Cagán sar / ᠴᠠᠭᠠᠨ ᠰᠠᠷᠠ, Mongolian pronunciation: [t͡sʰaɢaːŋ sar] or literally White Moon)[note 1], is the first day of the year according to the Mongolian lunisolar calendar. The festival of the Lunar New Year is celebrated by the Mongols along with the people in the Arctic and some Turkic peoples.

Timing[edit]

The White Moon festival is celebrated on the first through third days of the first lunar month. Tibet's Losar occurs on the same day as the Mongolian White Moon. Tsagaan Sar is one of the most important Mongolian holidays.[1]

History[edit]

The Mongolic Khitan of the Liao Dynasty (907-1125) had a festival day called Five Moon which is a name ending in "moon" like Tsagaan Sar. The Liaoshi records in Chapter 53:

國語謂是日為「討賽咿兒」。「討」五;「賽咿兒」,月也。

In the national (Khitan) language this day (5th day of the 5th lunar month) is called "Tao Saiyir". "Tao" means five; "Saiyir" means moon/month.

The Mongols of Genghis Khan used the twelve-year animal cycle to mark their chronology. The Secret History of the Mongols written in 1240 as well as many letters of the Khans extensively use the twelve-year animal cycle. On the Year of the Red Hare, Genghis Khan ascended and purified himself on the first day of the lunar new year, wore new clothes, paid respects to Heaven and Earth, bowed and greeted his mother Hoelun and took part in a ceremony in his palace. On the first day of the lunar new year of the Year of the Rat (1216), Genghis Khan distributed gold presents to people aged over 60.


Marco Polo describes a Mongolian Lunar New Year (White Moon) celebrated by Kublai Khan in the 13th century during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). In Book Two, Part One he writes:

The beginning of their New Year is the month of February, and on that occasion the Great Khan and all his subjects made such a Feast as I now shall describe. It is the custom that on this occasion the Khan and all his subjects should be clothed entirely in white; so, that day, everybody is in white, men and women, great and small. And this is done in order that they may thrive all through the year, for they deem that white clothing is lucky. On that day also all the people of all the provinces and governments and kingdoms and countries that owe allegiance to the Khan bring him great presents of gold and silver, and pearls and gems, and rich textures of divers kinds. And this they do that the Emperor throughout the year may have abundance of treasure and enjoyment without care. And the people also make presents to each other of white things, and embrace and kiss and make merry, and wish each other happiness and good luck for the coming year.

After the Red Turban Rebellion drove the Mongols out of China in 1368 the Northern Yuan Dynasty continued Mongol traditions in the Mongol homeland. In contrast to the Naadam festival in summer which celebrates manly virtues Tsagaan Sar celebrates the softer virtues of peace and harmony. The color white represented especially by the white foods or "tsagaan idee" (various dairy products and rice with raisins) symbolize purity of intent. In Paragraph 254 of the Secret History of the Mongols the sons of Genghis Khan fight over who will succeed as next Khan. Genghis Khan sits silently as they fight. Khukhuchos speaks up and reprimands Chagatai (whose name, also written Tsagaadai, incidentally means White): "Chagatai, you have spoken careless words that have frozen the warm liver of your good queen mother, grieved her loving heart, dried her oil-like thoughts and curdled her milk white spirit." During Tsagaan Sar emphasis is placed on purity of intent or whiteness of spirit when visiting elder relatives. The greeting "Amar baina uu" (Are you in peace?) is said while the arms are extended with open palms showing no bad intention. The younger places his or her arms below the elder in a supporting fashion, both bow and embrace and the traditional Mongolian "sniff-kiss" is given by the elder on both cheeks. This traditional gesture is called zolgokh (greeting)[2]. Quarreling is taboo and emphasis is placed on genuine reconciliation. Gift-giving is central to Tsagaan Sar. A lavish feast is usually laid out to wish for happiness and prosperity in the coming year.

During the Qing Dynasty, the Mongolians followed the "shar zurhai" (yellow horoscope) to determine the day of the Lunar New Year. From 1911 onwards during the Bogd Khanate of Mongolia, the Mongolians have used the Tugs Bayasgalant horoscope which differs from the yellow horoscope on certain years.

Ceremony[edit]

The customs of Tsagaan Sar are significantly different depending on the region. In Mongolia around the New Year for example, families burn candles at the altar symbolizing Buddhist enlightenment. Also people greet each other with holiday-specific greetings such as Амар байна уу? (Amar baina uu?), meaning "Are you living peacefully?"[3] Mongols also visit friends and family on this day and exchange gifts. A typical Mongol family will meet in the home dwelling of the eldest in the family.[4] Many people will be dressed in full garment of national Mongol costumes. When greeting their elders during the White Moon festival, Mongols perform the zolgokh greeting, grasping them by their elbows to show support for them. The eldest receives greetings from each member of the family except for his/her spouse.[4] During the greeting ceremony, family members hold long, typically blue, silk cloths called a khadag.[1] After the ceremony, the extended family eats sheep's tail, mutton, rice with curds, dairy products, and buuz. It is also typical to drink airag and exchange gifts.

The day before Tsagaan Sar is called Bituun, the name of the lunar phase of a new or dark moon. The lunar phases are Bituun (dark moon), Shined (new crescent moon), Tergel (full moon), and Huuchid (waxing moon). On the Bituun day, people thoroughly clean around home, herders also clean the livestock barns and shades, to meet the New Year fresh. The Bituun ceremony also includes burning candles to symbolize enlightenment of the samsara and all sentient beings and putting three pieces of ice at the doorway so that the horse of the deity Palden Lhamo could drink as the deity is believed to visit every household on this day. In the evening, families gather together—usually immediate family,[4] in contrast to the large feast gatherings of White Moon day — and see out the old year eating dairy products and buuz. Traditionally, Mongolians settle all issues and repay all debts from the old year by this day.[4]

Food[edit]

Depending on the region, food is prepared in a diverse array of forms. For example, the traditional food in Mongolia for the festival includes dairy products, rice with curds (tsagaa-цагаа) or rice with raisins (berees-бэрээс), a pyramid of traditional cookies erected on a large dish in a special fashion symbolising Mount Sumeru or Shambhala realm, a grilled side of sheep and minced beef or minced mutton steamed inside pastry, steamed dumplings known as buuz, horse meat and traditional cookies.[5] Tsagaan Sar is a lavish feast, requiring preparation days in advance, as the men and women make large quantities of buuz as a whole family, along with ul boov, a pastry reserved for both dessert and presentation.[4]

During communism[edit]

During Mongolia's Communist period, the government banned Tsagaan Sar after Choibalsan's death in 1952 and tried to replace it with a holiday called "Collective Herder's Day", but the holiday was practiced again after the 1990 Democratic Revolution in Mongolia.[6]

Dates[edit]

The Mongol calendar in the Tegus Buyantu (Төгсбуянт) system is a lunisolar calendar. The Tegus Buyantu astrology was developed by Mongol high priest Luvsandanzanjantsan (1639–1704), the first reincarnation of the Blama-yin Gegegen (Ламын гэгээн).[7] Tsagaan Sar is celebrated on the first through third days of the first lunar month.

Gregorian year Mongol year[7] Transliteration Tsagaan Sar Element and animal
1989 Цагаан Tsagaan 7 February – 10 February female earth Snake
1990 Машид согтонги Mashid sogtongi 26 February – 28 February male iron Horse
1991 Төрөлхтний эзэн Törölkhtnii eeen 15 February – 17 February female iron Sheep
1992 Ангира Apgira 4 February – 7 February male water Monkey
1993 Цогт нигурт Tsogt nigurt 25 January – 30 January female water Rooster
1994 Бода Boda 11 February – 13 February male wooden Dog
1995 Насан төгөлдөр Nasan tögöldör 31 January – 5 February female wooden Pig
1996 Баригч Barigch 19 February – 21 February male fire Rat
1997 Эрхэт Erkhet 8 February – 10 February female fire Ox
1998 Олон үрт Olon ürt 28 February – 2 March male earth Tiger
1999 Согтох төгөлдөр Sogtokh tögöldör 17 February – 19 February female earth Rabbit
2000 Тийн дарагч Tiin daragch 5 February – 8 February male iron Dragon
2001 Сүргийн манлай Sürgiin manlai 24 January – 26 January female iron Snake
2002 Элдэв Eldev 13 February – 15 February male water Horse
2003 Наран Naran 2 February – 4 February female water Sheep
2004 Наран гэтэлгэгч Naran getelgegch 21 February – 23 February male wood Monkey
2005 Газар тэтгэгч Gazar tetgegch 9 February – 11 February* female wood Rooster
2006 Барагдашгүй Baragdashgüi 30 January – 1 February male fire Dog
2007 Хамгийг номхотгогч Khamgiig nomkhotgogch 18 February – 20 February female fire Pig
2008 Хотолыг баригч Khotolyg barigch 8 February – 10 February male earth Rat
2009 Харшлалт Kharshlalt 25 February – 27 February female earth Ox
2010 Тийн урвагч Tiin urvagch 14 February – 17 February male iron Tiger
2011 Илжиг Iljig 3 February – 5 February female iron Rabbit
2012 Баясгалан Bayasgalan 22 February – 25 February male water Dragon
2013 Тийн ялагч Tiin yalagch 11 February – 13 February female water Snake
2014 Ялгуусан Yalguusan 30 January – 1 February male wood Horse
2015 Галзууруулагч Galzuuruulagch 19 February – 21 February female wood Sheep
2016 Муу нүүрт Muu nuurt 9 February – 11 February male fire Monkey
2017 Алтан унжлагат Altan unjlagat 27 February – 1 March female fire Rooster
2018 Тийн унжлагат Tiin unjlagat 16 February – 18 February male earth Dog
2019 Хамгийг номхотгогч Khamgiig nomkhotgogch 5 February – 7 February female fire Pig
2020 ??? ??? February 24 – 26 February male iron Rat
2021 ??? ??? 12 February – 14 February white cow
2022 ??? ??? 2 February – 4 February water tiger

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Russian Buryat: Сагаан һара, translit. Sagán ħara, IPA: [sagaːŋ ħara]; Oirat: Цаһан сар, translit. Cahan sar, IPA: [t͡saɣan sar]; Altay: Чага-Байрам; Yakut: Үрүнь Ый, translit. Ürüny ıy; Northern Sami: Vielgatguovssahasat; Inuktitut: ᐊᐳᑦᑕᖅᑭᖅ, translit. Aputtaqqiq; Greenlandic: Aputqaqortoq, Chinese: 查幹薩日; pinyin: Chágàn Sàrì, Xiao'erjing: ﭼَﺎقً ﺻَﺎژِ‎; Dungan: Санган сари, Sangan Sari

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Tsagan Sar: The Mongolian Lunar New Year". Mongoluls. 2007. March 13, 2008.Mongoluls.net
  2. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOlxb9gb8-w
  3. ^ Амар байна уу? (Are you rested/peaceful?)
  4. ^ a b c d e "Tsagaan Sar, the Lunar New Year" Archived 2006-11-13 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Kohn, Michael. Lonely Planet Mongolia. Lonely Planet, 2008, ISBN 978-1-74104-578-9, p. 44
  6. ^ Marsh, Peter. The Horse-head Fiddle and the Cosmopolitan Reimagination of Tradition of Mongolia. Routledge, 2009, ISBN 978-0-415-97156-0, p. 136
  7. ^ a b Л. Тэрбиш. Монгол зурхайн цаг тооны бичиг