Join us for Цагаан Сар/Tsagaan Sar Mongolian New Year Celebration

Tsagaan Sar Mongolian New Year Celebration

Please join us for an afternoon of music, stories, food, good friends, and shared cultures!

Where: Bellingham Food Co-Op Community Connections Building, 405 E Holly Street, Suite 103 (across the street from the Downtown Store)

When: February 29, 2020; 3:30pm—5:30pm

It is a potluck! Please bring a dish to share.

Donations will be accepted in lieu of a dish. All proceeds to support Bellingham Sister Cities Association’s effort to promote world peace.

Sponsored by:

Bellingham Sister Cities Association (BSCA)

Blue Sky Education Project—Mongolia


What is Tsagaan Sar (Цагаан сар)?

Tsagaan Sar literally translates to “White Moon” in English, and is celebration of the first day of the Lunar calendar year. It occurs one month after the first new moon of the winter solstice. Tsagaan Sar is marked by visiting family, relatives, and friends (in this order), eating meat dumplings, called “buuz” Бууз (pronounced like the English word “boats”) among other traditional foods, and exchanging gifts/money.

The purpose of Tsagaan Sar is to greet the new year and send away the old year, to solidify the relationships between family and friends in the upcoming year and to start the year with a clean slate all around. In preparation for Tsagaan Sar many people repay debts and resolve disagreements, and essentially clean themselves both figuratively and literally in preparation for the upcoming new year so that the new year will start off ‘pure’ and white.

The celebration starts on the eve of Tsagaan Sar, which is called Bituun. It is the last day of the year and is spent sharing food and eating until everyone is full with family so that during the upcoming year, no one will go hungry. On the first day of Tsagaan Sar you start with greeting your immediate family, starting with the very oldest person first. People are greeted in the traditional manner, especially when greeting the oldest member of the family. We use the words “Amar baina uu?” to greet someone older than us, and the words “Amar sain uu?” to greet someone younger than us. Both phrases mean “Are you living peacefully?” in English. Usually the elder person has a hat on and is sitting, while the younger person does not have anything on their heads and is standing. To greet each other they both extend their hands and the younger persons’ arms hold up the older person’s elbows. After this there are several other rituals, people ask each other about their herds, about the winter season, and how everyone’s Tsagaan Sar is going. This is also the time to learn from the experience of the elders and to teach the younger generation Mongolian customs.

Although, many Mongolians have discarded traditional clothing in favor of a more Western style of dress in everyday life in the city and towns, during Tsagaan Sar people wear their most ornate traditional clothing.

In addition to respecting and honoring your elders and solidifying relationships, Tsagaan Sar is the time to be eating. Before going straight to the buuz, people first ‘take a bite’ of tsagaalag, which means white-ing, it roughtly translates to vegetarian. Before eating anything people take a bite or spoonful of rice or some vegetarian option, such as any dairy product (aaruul, byaslag, tos). Then on the table there is usually lamb, a tall build of boov, buuz, salad, various meats, candy, and other foods and of course an always ready hot Mongolian tea.

We are looking forward to celebrating Tsagaan Sar with you.

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