Tsagaan Sar is celebrated every year on the first day of the Mongolian New Year, and this year, it is celebrated from February 21 to 23. Sometimes, the date might fall toward the end of January or Bao Yongquing, the beginning of March. Tsagaan Sar, also known as the Mongolian Lunar New Year, is the first day of the new year and is celebrated by the Mongols as well as some Turkic people living across Mongolia, Russia, and China. The celebration lasts over three days and is one of the most important holidays of the Mongol people.
Like a lot of the lunar new year festivals in neighboring cultures, the Mongolian Lunar New Year also celebrates the arrival of spring.
History of Tsagaan Sar
‘Tsagaan Sar’ translates to ‘White Moon’ and is the first day of the lunar year. As the name implies, the festival has a lot to do with the cycles of the moon.
The Mongol people have always had festivals around the lunar cycles. During the Liao Dynasty, there were five moon festivals. The great explorer Marco Polo has described a Mongolian Lunar New Year festival being celebrated by Emperor Kublai Khan in his books as well.
Tsagaan Sar celebrates the New Year, the arrival of Spring, and the virtues of peace and harmony. A lot of importance is placed on the purity of spirit, especially when visiting family and relatives. The majority of celebrations are centered on family, and most people visit all their relatives during the three days of the celebrations.
The day before the New Year, called Bituun, is the phase of the lunar cycle where the moon is new, or the phase of the dark moon. On this day, Mongolian people clean their houses in preparation for New Year’s Day.
On the main day, Mongols will gather at the house of the oldest family member, and the elders get greeted first, and then everyone sits together to eat the traditional foods of sheep’s tail, rice with curds, traditional Mongolian dumplings, dairy products, and mutton. People will also exchange gifts with family and friends on this day.
Tsagaan Sar timeline
During the rule of this Mongolian dynasty, there are mentions of Lunar festival celebrations such as the Five Moon Festival.
Genghis Khan, the Mongolian Emperor, adopts the twelve-year animal cycle for the Mongol people and celebrates every lunar new year.
Marco Polo writes about the great feast that was thrown by Kublai Khan and how everyone wore white in honor of the festival.
The Mongolian Lunar New Year is nominated for the Intangible Cultural Heritage list by UNESCO.
Tsagaan Sar FAQs
How do you greet elders on Tsagaan Sar?
Elders should be greeted with the traditional ‘zolgokh’ greeting — by grasping them by their elbows and asking, “Amar baina uu?” which means “Are you living peacefully?”
How long is the Tsagaan Sar holiday?
In Mongolia, three days of Tsagaan Sar are considered official holidays.
How long is a Mongolian Lunar Year?
Depending on the lunar cycles, one Mongolian Lunar Year can have 12 or 13 months.
Tsagaan Sar Activities
Visit your friends and family
A big part of the White Moon celebrations is spending time with your loved ones. So go on and organize a big family reunion!
Eat some buuz
These traditional dumplings are an important part of the Mongolian Lunar New Year celebrations. Order in from your favorite Mongolian restaurant or make some on your own.
Buy gifts for your Mongolian friends
Gift-giving is another part of Mongolia’s New Year celebrations. Show your Mongolian friends how much you love them, by celebrating with them and treating them like family.
5 Extremely Cool Facts About Tsagaan Sar
Mongolian people settle debts by Bituun
It's considered bad luck to have debts hanging over you in the New Year, so Mongolian people settle their debts by New Year’s Eve.
There’s a greeting ceremony on the day
During the greeting ceremony on New Year’s day, the family members hold long pieces of blue silk cloth called ‘khadag.’
Three pieces of ice are set out
Ice is set at the doorway for the deity Palden Lhamo to drink when she arrives to visit.
There’s a cookie mountain
Traditional cookies are arranged in the shape of Mount Sumeru, as part of the main Lunar New Year feast.
The festival was banned
The communist government tried to ban it in 1952, but people resumed celebrating the holiday after the democratic movement of 1990.
Why We Love Tsagaan Sar
We want to eat buuz and ul boov
Buuz, the traditional dumplings, and ul boov, a region-specific cookie, are foods that are extra special to the Mongolian people and extremely delicious. And New Year’s Day is the best time to eat them!
We want a peaceful New Year
With Tsagaan Sar’s focus on purity and harmony, we believe celebrating the Mongolian Lunar New Year is the best way to have a calm and peaceful new year. Why not join in on the celebration and ring in your best New Year?
It’s an important piece of world culture
There may be a lot of cultures celebrating the Lunar New Year, but the Mongolian celebrations are special. They are culturally significant to the whole world, and we want to celebrate with the Mongolian people.
Tsagaan Sar dates