Saturday, February 13, 2010

Instructions for Tsagaan Sar

Tsagaan Sar is the big new year's holiday for Mongolia. It will last from Sunday February 14 through Tuesday February 16 and on.

At our staff meeting they gave us some ideas on what to expect and what we should do when we visit someone's home during Tsagaan Sar.

Instructions on appropriate behavior when going to a home for Tsagaan Sar

When entering a ger, go to the left.

Greet the eldest person first. If there is a couple there, greet the man first and then the woman. He/she will be sitting on the north or the furthest position from the door. Amar bain yy (peace).

Facing him/her, put your hands under his/her elbows like you are holding him/her. The older person will put his/her arms on top of yours. Likely you'll press each of your cheeks against his/hers. The oldest person may kiss you. He/she will ask how you're doing. Saikhan shinelj baina uu? (Are you having a nice white month?) Saikhan.

Have money in hand. Give it to the oldest person.

The husband will greet first. Each of you give money.

When you greet, you have to be wearing a hat. Also if your sleeves are folded up, you should unroll them before greeting.

Hold a 1,000T bill and give it to the oldest person. The denomination of the bill goes up the closer you are to the person.

If you don't see someone clearly older, you don't do this.

After you greet the oldest person(s), sit down and wait. Younger people will come and greet you. You will put your arms on top of theirs when they greet you.

If the seated head of household recognizes you as older or equal in age, that person will stand to greet you. If the person doesn't put his hands under your elbows, you do it to that person and give the person money. If the person does it to you, you don't give the person money.

The President asked if there is anything you shouldn't say or do. (For example at a funeral you don't say how are you.)

Table. Before you touch anything with meat, you must take a spoon of white rice or something white. Sometimes rice is with raisins. Sometimes with milk. May be candy. Must be white. Be sure your hands are clean. May put the rice on your hand if you don't have a personal spoon.

If not church members, they will hand you tea with milk. It is rude not to take it. Just take it and set it down and don't drink it.

If they offer it with 1 hand, take it with 1 hand - right hand with left hand under it. Never use left hand.

If they pass you snuff, smell it (don't take lid off), and pass it on. Lid should be a little bit lifted - space between bottle and lid. Admire bottle. Receive bottle with palm up; pass on with palm down. Lids on side; won't be upside down.

Stay until hot buuz or bansh (boiled variation of buuz) is on table.

When you leave, the host will give you a small gift.

Airag - fermented mare's milk. High and low alcohol. Not temple recommend question. Personal decision. (South Pacific - similar to decision on Kava.) Shouldn't encourage people to drink it. Even if not drinking it, bring it to your mouth.

Namkhai says you don’t need to do that. Take it, dip your right ring finger in it, and flick it in three different directions. Then return the drink.

More Do's and Don't from Our English Class
Don't be angry.
Don't say bad words.
Couples don't greet each other.
Pregnant women don't greet each other - otherwise their babies will change sex (a girl baby will become a boy baby and vice versa).

Wear new clothes (people often do this).
Eat buuz and lots of food.
Give gifts.
Play traditional Mongolian games.
Get up before sunrise and watch the sun rise.
Early in the morning walk in the snow and make footprints.
Leave your house (ger) from one direction and return to it from another directions. Each person in the house goes a different direction (the newspaper tells which direction to go according to the birth year).


Will said...

That seems like WAAAAYYYYY too much to remember. I would probably do something culturally embarrassing and get thrown from the country.

Bonnie said...

What was that again? I agree with William that is way too confusing!

Pappo - Darwin said...

If I had to write notes on my hand to remind me what to do, should it be on the palm of my had or the back of my hand and which hand do I write on...oh the stress is getting to me.

John & Marjorie said...

"Battsagaan has had a call to serve as a missionary in New Zealand for some time, but his visa has still not come. (It came Friday March 12 - boy was he excited; he'll leave Mongolia Wed. March 17.)" Sounds like a fun mission. I guess that's today where you are. When you say goodbye, don't forget to say it while balancing an egg on your forehead. That's the traditional way. And make sure it's hard boiled or if it falls it will ruin his new suit.