Tsagaan Sar journal


This year’s Tsagaan Sar took place on February 19, rather later than usual.
My family has four members, my grandmother, father, younger sister and me.
On Bituun, or Tsagaan Sar’s Eve, my grandmother cooked the dishes and younger sister cleaned our house.
By 7:00 p.m. my younger sister and I prepared the table for Bituun. The feast table included ul boov, which was set up in five layers and decorated it with dairy products, as well as lamb rump, vodka, beverages, salads, buuz, bansh, airag (fermented mare’s milk) and candies on table.
After my father arrived, we started our dinner and ate until we were full, as is the tradition.
On the first day of Tsagaan Sar (February 19), we woke up very early to check our horoscopes to determine our rituals and clear a path for a good year.
By 9:00 a.m. family zolgolt (greeting) started. My father, younger sister and I greeted with grandmother because she is the eldest in my family.
After zolgolt, I boiled a milk tea and gave it to my father and grandmother.
On the first day of Tsagaan Sar, everyone has to drink milk tea in their home.
I visited five families in total. The way they celebrated Tsagaan Sar was quite similar, but some things were a little different.
My grandmother, who is 67, has two elder brothers and one younger brother. So my family has to visit grandmother’s elder brothers because the younger sibling has to show respect to his or her elders.
Grandmother’s elder brothers all live in Ulaanbaatar, which made it convenient but the level of traffic jams was very high in isolated areas in the city, and it took quite a while to reach their houses. After greeted the eldest brother of grandmother, we dined on the Tsagaan Sar feast.
I put three buuz on my plate and took a bite and felt something hard. There was a coin inside the buuz. Some families put coins inside buuz and bansh (steamed dumplings) for a game. Whoever eats the buuz with the coin inside is said to enjoy great fortune in the coming year. Therefore, I was very happy to find the buuz with the coin.
The next family we visited was the other elder brother of grandmother. Their feast table included a unique set up of Tavgiin Idee, which attracted my attention because they used aaruul (dried curds) and dairy products instead of ul boov. It looked very unique and appealing.
Not long after we settled down around the feast table, they handed me a shot of vodka while my grandmother and father were looking as a joke. I politely refused.
The third family I visited was my other grandparents, who are the parents of my mother. My mother’s elder and younger sisters came back from Switzerland to celebrate Tsagaan Sar with their parents. They haven’t been in Mongolia during Tsagaan Sar for a couple of years and it was nice to see them in person.
After the visits, I went home to help out with guests at my house. In the evening, my relatives started visiting to greet my grandmother and my house was filled with people. Twenty-seven people came to visit at once. I felt nervous because we didn’t have enough chairs for all of them. In addition, I served them alone because my helper, younger sister, went to visit other places.
Serving alone for lots of people was the hardest part of Tsagaan Sar for me. Giving out gifts was also difficult. I got confused in the midst of handing gifts and may have switched presents of my relatives.
On the second day of Tsagaan Sar, my younger sister and I didn’t step out from our home because we had to serve visitors with dishes and help our grandmother. My second-cousins came to visit my grandmother.
On third day of Tsagaan Sar, my friends and I visited my friend Bilguun’s grandmother, who is 89 years old. She shared memories about her younger days with us. This is the second year we visited her.
This was the story of this year’s Tsagaan Sar for me.

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