Tsagaan Sar

Tsagaan Sar
Also called Lunar New Year (as a collective term including other Asian Lunar New Year festivals, used outside of Asia.)
Mongolian New Year
Mongol New Year
Cagaan Sar
Arctic New Year
Observed by

Mongolia, Siberia, Northern China and other Arctic regions

Type Cultural (Mongolian and Arctic)
Religious (Buddhist and Shamanist)
Significance New Year holiday
2017 date 27 February, Rooster
2018 date 16 February, Dog
2019 date 5 February, Pig
2020 date 24 February, Rat
Frequency Annual
Related to Chinese New Year, Japanese New Year, Tibetan New Year, Korean New Year, Vietnamese New Year

The Mongolian Lunar New Year, commonly known as Tsagaan Sar (Mongolian: Цагаан сар, Cagán sar / ᠴᠠᠭᠠᠨ ᠰᠠᠷᠠ, Mongolian pronunciation: [t͡sʰaɢaːŋ sar] or literally White Moon)[note 1], is the first day of the year according to the Mongolian lunisolar calendar. The festival of the Lunar New Year is celebrated by the Mongols along with the people of the Arctic.


The White Moon festival is celebrated on the first through third days of the first lunar month. Tibet's Losar occurs on the same day as the Mongolian White Moon. Tsagaan Sar is one of the most important Mongolian holidays.[1]


The customs of Tsagaan Sar are significantly different depending on the region. In Mongolia around the New Year for example, 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]


Depending on the region, food is prepared in a diverse array of forms. For example, the traditional food in Mongolia for the festival includes dairy products, rice with curds (tsagaa-цагаа) or rice with raisins (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, steamed dumplings known as buuz, horse meat and traditional cookies.[4] Tsagaan Sar is a lavish feast, requiring preparation days in advance, as the men and women make large quantities of buuz as a whole family, along with ul boov, a pastry reserved for both dessert and presentation.[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 Transliteration Tsagaan Sar Element and animal
1989 Цагаан Tsagaan 7 February – 10 February female earth Snake
1990 Машид согтонги Mashid sogtongi 26 February – 28 February male iron Horse
1991 Төрөлхтний эзэн Törölkhtnii eeen 15 February – 17 February female iron Goat
1992 Ангира Apgira 4 February – 7 February male water Monkey
1993 Цогт нигурт Tsogt nigurt 25 January – 30 January female water Rooster
1994 Бода Boda 11 February – 13 February male wooden Dog
1995 Насан төгөлдөр Nasan tögöldör 31 January – 5 February female wooden Pig
1996 Баригч Barigch 19 February – 21 February male fire Rat
1997 Эрхэт Erkhet 8 February – 10 February female fire Ox
1998 Олон үрт Olon ürt 28 February – 2 March male earth Tiger
1999 Согтох төгөлдөр Sogtokh tögöldör 17 February – 19 February female earth Rabbit
2000 Тийн дарагч Tiin daragch 5 February – 8 February male iron Dragon
2001 Сүргийн манлай Sürgiin manlai 24 January – 26 January female iron Snake
2002 Элдэв Eldev 13 February – 15 February male water Horse
2003 Наран Naran 2 February – 4 February female water Goat
2004 Наран гэтэлгэгч Naran getelgegch 21 February – 23 February male wood Monkey
2005 Газар тэтгэгч Gazar tetgegch 9 February – 11 February* female wood Rooster
2006 Барагдашгүй Baragdashgüi 30 January – 1 February male fire Dog
2007 Хамгийг номхотгогч Khamgiig nomkhotgogch 18 February – 20 February female fire Pig
2008 Хотолыг баригч Khotolyg barigch 8 February – 10 February male earth Rat
2009 Харшлалт Kharshlalt 25 February – 27 February female earth Ox
2010 Тийн урвагч Tiin urvagch 14 February – 17 February male iron Tiger
2011 Илжиг Iljig 3 February – 5 February female iron Rabbit
2012 Баясгалан Bayasgalan 22 February – 25 February male water Dragon
2013 Тийн ялагч Tiin yalagch 11 February – 13 February female water Snake
2014 Ялгуусан Yalguusan 30 January – 1 February male wood Horse
2015 Галзууруулагч Galzuuruulagch 19 February – 21 February female wood Goat
2016 Муу нүүрт Muu nuurt 9 February – 11 February male fire Monkey
2017 Алтан унжлагат Altan unjlagat 27 February – 1 March female fire Rooster
2018 Тийн унжлагат Tiin unjlagat 16 February – 18 February male earth Dog


See also


  1. Russian Buryat: Сагаан һара, translit. Sagán ħara, IPA: [sagaːŋ ħara]; Oirat: Цаһан сар, translit. Cahan sar, IPA: [t͡saɣan sar]; Altay: Чага-Байрам; Sakha: Үрүнь Ый, translit. Ürüny ıy; Northern Sami: Vielgatguovssahasat; Inuktitut: ᐊᐳᑦᑕᖅᑭᖅ, translit. Aputtaqqiq; Greenlandic: Aputqaqortoq, Chinese: 查幹薩日; pinyin: Chágàn Sàrì, Xiao'erjing: ﭼَﺎقً ﺻَﺎژِ; Dungan: Санган сари, Sangan Sari


  1. 1 2 "Tsagan Sar: The Mongolian Lunar New Year". Mongoluls. 2007. March 13, 2008.Mongoluls.net
  2. Амар байна уу? (Are you rested/peaceful?)
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 "Tsagaan Sar, the Lunar New Year" Archived 2006-11-13 at the Wayback Machine.
  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. 1 2 Л. Тэрбиш. Монгол зурхайн цаг тооны бичиг
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