Tuulai Jil – Year of the Rabbit

Mongolians celebrate Tsagaan Sar this week, or their lunar new year. Due to restrictions during the pandemic, this is the first time families have been able to truly celebrate the holiday in several years, and there was a lot of hubbub leading up to the holiday itself. Our language teacher was preparing for weeks ahead of time as she was going to be hosting her family. Her mother, the matriarch of the family, lives with her, and it is customary to visit the oldest relatives first.

Depending on whether you live in the city or the countryside, Tsagaan Sar can last from a few days to over a week, full of visiting family, friends, coworkers, etc. With all of this visiting going on, people make and serve a veritable ton of foods leading up to lunar new year. My favorite question to ask before Tsagaan Sar is how many buuz (mutton dumplings) people have made. The biggest number I heard this year was 2,000 buuz! Everything is handmade in this process, but it’s done with a family assembly line of sorts. After Tsagaan Sar, my favorite question is to ask people how many buuz they ate during the holiday. 😀

What I love about this time of year is seeing so many people walk around in traditional clothing. Usually, only elderly people wear deel on non-holidays, but during holidays like Tsagaan Sar or Naadam, everyone will wear deel at least once during the festive period. This morning, I walked to my dermatologist and saw quite a few folks dressed up and on their way to visit people. I love the variety of colors and patterns in fabrics used.

Leaving the Year of the Tiger behind, now we are entering the Year of the Rabbit. For those who follow the annual zodiac changes (it’s a 12 year cycle), rabbit years are seen as peaceful and reflective. It’s a year to rest following the big changes and actions of the preceding tiger year.

And on that note, saikhan shineleerei!

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