Tsagaan Sar 2020
The Year of the White Rat
Mongolians celebrate Tsagaan Sar, the lunar new year, in January or February each year. In 2020, Mongolia will celebrate Tsagaan Sar from February 24 to 26 beginning the Year of the White Rat.
The family hides a coin in one buuz (mutton dumpling). The person who bites into that buuz will be prosperous in the new year. Discovering the buuz filled with rice foretells a year with plenty to eat.
Bituun, Tsagaan Sar Eve, is a day of preparation. The family cleans the ger (nomadic home) and makes sure that everything starts the new year full: piles of firewood, containers of flour, and, with the evening feast, everyone's stomachs.
Greet everyone on Tsagaan Sar, except your spouse. Married couples become one person when married, and thus have no need to greet each other.
On Shiniin Negen, the first day of Tsagaan Sar, families rise early to greet the year's first sunrise. People greet each other in a tradition called zolgolt, in which the younger person holds the older person's arms in a symbol of respect.
The Celebration Continues
During Tsagaan Sar, families often play with shagai, sheep ankle bones. An ankle bone's four sides represent sheep, goats, camels and horses.
After greeting family on Shiniin Negen, Mongolians visit friends and coworkers' families on the following days of Tsagaan Sar. The fifteenth day of the lunar year is particularly auspicious. Even months after Tsagaan Sar, Mongolians greet each other with zolgolt on their first meeting of the lunar year.