In Mongolia there are two major traditional holidays. One is in summer and is called Naadam, the other is in winter and is called Tsagaan Sar or white moon. Tsagaan Sar is the celebration of the Lunar New Year, following the same calendar as the Chinese New Year.
The photos of this special celebration can be found here: Tsagaan Sar 2015
Tsagaan Sar is a three day celebration but for many families the celebrations can take up to even ten days. The celebrations are part of the traditions being a nomadic people. During Tsagaan Sar people visit relatives and neighbors and in the countryside, this might be the only time of the year that you would see most of the family. You would be greeted with a special greeting congratulating each other with the year that has passed and wishing the best for the new year. The conversations during the day would mostly be about the year that has past and looking back.
Tseegi, a social worker of one of Susanne’s projects had invited us to celebrate Tsagaan Sar as part of their family. After picking us up in the city we were driven out to the ger district. Here we were visiting Tseegi’s 80 year old mother-in-law. She is a mother of twelve children. So when we were there many people were coming and going. It is tradition to greet the eldest with the arms outstretched and depending on age you would have your arms above or below the other person, always having the eldest on top. The Mongolians then also sniff each other as scent is very important. It is tradition to give money to the oldest person of the household during this first greeting (something we got wrong while doing it the first time, but we made up for it). Then after having greeted everybody the men would start exchanging snuff bottles and also sharing them with the women.