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Tsagaan Sar – Mongolian national holiday

The Mongolian Lunar New Year, commonly known as Tsagaan Sar (or literally White Moon), is the first day of the year according to the Mongolian lunisolar calendar. The name “White Moon” is linked with the Mongolian tradition of using white color as a symbol of happiness and goodness.

The celebration ceremony consists of three parts. The first one is a preparation. Mongolians clean the houses and throw away old and unnecessary staff. Women sew new traditional costumes for all family members. Traditionally, Mongolians settle all issues and repay all debts from the old year by this day.

The day before Tsagaan Sar is called Bituun, the name of the lunar phase of a new or dark moon. This is the day when the Tsagaan Sar celebrations begin. Every Mongolian should stay at home with his or her relatives and eat national food such as buuz.

The first day of the celebrations starts at 3 or 5 in the morning. All Mongolians dress up in new costumes, take a tray with food and go to the nearest mountain to worship the hosts of the lands. As a gift to the spirits they present patisserie and sweets, milk and vodka and bind up a ribbon around the tree.

When greeting their elders during the White Moon festival, Mongolians 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. During the greeting ceremony, family members hold long, typically blue, silk cloths called a khadag. 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.