Lunar New Year of Red Fire Rooster welcomedPolitics
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ Tsagaan Sar or Lunar New Year officially begins when the sun rises on the first day of spring /by lunar horoscope/. This lunar year is attributed as a Red Fire Rooster.
The ancient nomadic people’s first statehood, the Hun was established over 2000 years ago in the current territory of Mongolia and later became the Great Mongol Empire under Chinggis Khaan’s rule. Mongolians wake up early before the sun, wearing their freshly made deel (Traditional costume), brews their tea to offer the best to the mother-earth and proceeds in greeting their family.
Each family member greets the elders first. The edge of Khadag /traditional ceremonial scarf/ must face the greeting person. Traditionally, the younger person greets the elder by grasping their elbows to show support for them and say “Ta amarkhan sain baina uu?” (Are you living peacefully?), allowing the elder to kiss them on both cheeks. The elder should respond “Amar mend ee” (Living trouble-free). After sitting behind the feast table, the guests and the elders exchange Khuurug (snuffle-bottle with a fine-ground tobacco inside) with its lid released and say “Ta sar shinedee saikhan shinelej baina uu?” (Are you celebrating well?). And the response should be “Saikhan, saikhan” (Good and well).
For Mongolians, exchanging khuurug means to strengthen the bonds between family and friends. Same-aged people greet by crossing their wrists. Also, it is a taboo for spouses to greet each other, as their souls are counted as one. For pregnant women to greet each other is another taboo for Mongolians as it claims that the genders of the unborn would change.
Another tradition that tourists find strange is the ethics of starting footprints. The good and taboo directions of 12 years and 28 stars are explained upon the drawings of celestial direction in the pictorial representation of ‘eight seats’ in lunar horoscope which wards off the misfortunes of that year. This unique tradition is mostly related to Mongolian shamanism.
Tsagaan Sar traditions are originated from the ancient Daoism and was enriched by Buddhism, which became the unique cultural and religious heritage of Mongolia. On the first day of Lunar New Year, the head of a family practices the tradition of ‘starting footprint’, wearing a full garment of Mongolian traditional costume and ride their horses to the top of the hill before sunrise in order to offer treats and pray to the spirits.This represents the anticipation of good fortunes in business and work in the upcoming year. The tradition is still being kept in modern days as the people in the city prioritizes the tradition of starting footprints on the first day of spring.