Saturday, February 28, 2009

Tsagaan Sar

This blog is being posted for two, perhaps unequally important reasons:

1) For the general education of the American populous concerning a unique custom of the Mongolian people.


2) The repudiation of accusations that this blog is sometimes something less than informative.

Tsagaan Sar means, White Month. It is, in essence, the Mongolian New Year. Why is this month so very white? Because one must (insert a modal verb of your choice[?]) eat white food on this holiday. What is white food you ask? The answer is as obvious as you think it is. Yes, rice is white food. Buuz (see one of the previous blogs for the recipe) are also white (if you steam them long enough). And, forget thee not those white, sugar covered nuts which Tysen has only recently discovered. But let us not restrict ourselves only to food lest we leave out the white drinks: fermented mare's milk, milk tea, vodka (?), etc.

The celebration goes on for three days during which time people visit each other's homes. Upon entering a home the following procedure occurs without fail and always in this order:

1) Hold out a hadag (blue cloth) and say: "Amar baina uu?" or "Amar sain uu?" The person you are greeting may sniff your cheeks (like an Italian but no kissing).
2) Drink your milk tea. (Other drinks will be offered - take what you please but be warned that one shot is never enough, at least three if you start that monkey business...).
3) Have a snuff bottle handed to you. Be asked, "Are you newing well?" Say, "yes," and ask them the same when you hand back the bottle. You could take a bit and snort it if you want.
4) Eat buuz. Every time you want to be done eating your host will tell you to eat more buuz. "Id, id, id, id, id!" (Which sounds just like the command "eat" only with a "d" instead of a "t" at the end).
5) Have presents handed to you. If you are close to this person it may be something like a shirt and candy, if not...well, be happy with chocolate (I am currently the proud own of 6 choco pies).

Repeat this process as many times as you want/can. Do not let regurgitating buuz stop you. One volunteer ate 100 in a day. No lie. Check out the pictures.

1 comment:

Triple said...

this is Trip. you are right that one Volunteer once ate 100 buuz in one day; but the record is 170 in one day. Jeff Khun set it. I challenged him this year, but only got to 62 before I had to stop. yanaa!!!! I was hurting and gave myself the worst case of gastro-intestinal distress you could imagine. not fun having to run to the outhouse at 4 in the morning.

oh, and it was the big buuz, too; not the bansh-sized ones.