Tsagaan Sar

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Tsagaan Sar meal

The Mongolian Lunar New Year, commonly known as Tsagaan Sar (Mongolian: Цагаан сар / ᠴᠠᠭᠠᠨ ᠰᠠᠷᠠ; Buryat: Сагаан һара; Oirat: Цаһан сар or literally White Moon), is the first day of the year according to the Mongolian lunar calendar. The festival of the lunar New Year is celebrated by the Mongols.


The White Moon festival is celebrated one month after the first new moon following the winter solstice. Tsagaan Sar is one of the most important Mongolian holidays.[1]


Around the New Year 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?"[2] 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.[3] 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.[3] 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,[3] 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.[3]


Traditional food for the festival includes dairy products, rice with curds (tsagaa-цагаа) or rice with raisin (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, a dish known as buuz, horse meat and traditional cookies.[4] Tsagaan Sar is a lavish feast, requiring preparation days in advance, as the women make large quantities of buuz and freeze them to save for the holiday.[3]

During communism

During Mongolia's Communist period, the government banned Tsagaan Sar 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.[5]


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).[6] Tsagaan Sar is celebrated on the first through third days of the first lunar month.

Gregorian year Mongol year Tsagaan Sar* Element and animal
1989 Цагаан February 7 - February 10 female earth snake
1990 Машид согтонги February 26 - February 28 male iron horse
1991 Төрөлхтний эзэн February 15 - February 17 female iron sheep
1992 Ангира February 4 - February 7 male water ape
1993 Цогт нигурт January 25 - January 30 female water rooster
1994 Бода February 11 - February 13 male wooden dog
1995 Насан төгөлдөр January 31 - February 5 female wooden hog
1996 Баригч February 19 - February 21 male fire mouse
1997 Эрхэт February 8 - February 10 female fire cattle
1998 Олон үрт February 28 - March 2 male earth tiger
1999 Согтох төгөлдөр February 17 - February 19 female earth rabbit
2000 Тийн дарагч February 5 - February 8 male iron dragon
2001 Сүргийн манлай January 24 - January 26 female iron snake
2002 Элдэв February 13 - February 15 male water horse
2003 Наран February 2 - February 4 female water sheep
2004 Наран гэтэлгэгч February 21 - February 23 male wood ape
2005 Газар тэтгэгч February 9 - February 11* female wood rooster
2006 Барагдашгүй January 30 - February 1 male fire dog
2007 Хамгийг номхотгогч February 18 - February 20 female fire hog
2008 Хотолыг баригч February 8 - February 10 male earth mouse
2009 Харшлалт February 25 - February 27 female earth cattle
2010 Тийн урвагч February 14 - February 17 male iron tiger
2011 Илжиг February 3 - February 5 female iron rabbit
2012 Баясгалан February 22 - February 25 male water dragon
2013 Тийн ялагч February 11 - February 13 female water snake
2014 Ялгуусан January 30 - February 1 male wood horse
2015 Галзууруулагч February 19 - February 21 female wooden sheep


* Note: The start date of Tsagaan Sar depends on longitude. For example, in 2005, Tsagaan Sar began on February 8 in most of the United States and February 9 in much of Asia.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Tsagan Sar: The Mongolian Lunar New Year". Mongoluls. 2007. March 13, 2008.Mongoluls.net
  2. Амар байна уу? (Are you rested/peaceful?)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "Tsagaan Sar, the Lunar New Year"
  4. Kohn, Michael. Lonely Planet Mongolia. Lonely Planet, 2008, ISBN 978-1-74104-578-9, p. 44
  5. Marsh, Peter. The Horse-head Fiddle and the Cosmopolitan Reimagination of Tradition of Mongolia. Routledge, 2009, ISBN 978-0-415-97156-0, p. 136
  6. Л. Тэрбиш. Монгол зурхайн цаг тооны бичиг
  7. Л. Тэрбиш. Монгол зурхайн цаг тооны бичиг