Happy New Year (for the third time!)

Today marks the end of our five day holiday, tomorrow we are back to work. On January first we celebrated the beginning of a new calendar year in Thailand. (Note: Thais celebrate their new year in April. They began counting the years 543 years before Jesus was born, so their calendar year is different from ours.) On January twenty-sixth we celebrated the lunar new year (we were fortunate enough to partake in both Chinese and Korean food!). On February twenty-fourth, we marked our third and final new years celebration as we began the new year Mongolian style. While the Chinese and Koreans follow the lunar calendar, Mongolians celebrate new year that is more closely linked to the Tibetans.

The layers of bread represent happiness and struggle. (Photo taken by Megan Bond)

The layers of bread represent happiness and struggle. (Photo taken by Megan Bond)

Tsaagan Sar, the term used for new years, means white moon. The holiday is celebrated two months after the first new moon that follows the winter solstice. Like holidays all over the world, people get together with their families and eat. Prior to the beginning of the festivities homes are cleaned, debts are paid, and hundreds of buuz (basically a meat dumpling) are made. It\’s interesting to see how similar people are all over the world.

Hanboks and Deels were a common sight on Traditional Dress day.

Korean Hanboks and Mongolian Deels were a common sight on Traditional Dress day at school on Tuesday.

We spent the holidays basically relaxing. A bit of cleaning, a bit of school work, and lots of knitting (well, I knit, Jeff didn’t)! On Thursday we headed off to a national park (about an hour’s drive from UB) to check out the Eagle Festival. Men from the western Mongolian border (close to Kazakhstan) came to the park (with their horses) to display their eagles. It was amazing to see these beautiful creatures up close. We saw them call their eagles, and send their eagles to catch a poor fox who was taken from a bag and thrown into the open field. It was sad to watch, it reminded me of the fox hunts which used to happen in England. It was a cold day, but nice to get out and be exposed to a bit more of Mongolian culture.

A hunter with his eagle before the festivities began.

A hunter with his eagle before the festivities began.

Now that Tsaagan Sar has been celebrated the weather seems to be changing. It feels as though spring is on it’s way. Instead of minus 27 lows, this week is predicting minus 21 as a low, with a high of minus 9 (oh, it’s wonderful!) The Mongolian sun makes minus 9 feel wonderful. I can’t wait to get outside for recess with my kids this week!

Hunters parading their eagles and horses before the show began.

Hunters parading their eagles and horses before the show began.

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~ by dawseng on March 1, 2009.

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