With that in mind, every February Sean and I get into Tsagaan Sar mode. Tsagaan Sar (translated as "White Moon") is the Mongolian Lunar New Year celebration. In Mongolia, it is a three day celebration of visiting family and friends, paying respects to elders, and consuming copious amounts of meat dumplings, sheep back fat, salty milk tea, and vodka. Around these parts, we take it down a notch, but we do our best to bring some of the spirit of the holiday to our home. Here are a few highlights from 2012:
- We currently have Mongolian vests for both of our kids. The smaller silk vest was sent by a Mongolian friend when Finn was born. The larger felt vest was purchased for my nephew when I was in Mongolia and has since been passed back to me.
- Every year, Sean goes to great lengths to prepare a traditional Mongolian tower of cookies as a centerpiece for the Tsagaan Sar table. The cookies, called "ul boov" (which translates to "shoe sole") are typically deep fried in huge vats of oil then arranged in a circular tower and topped with candy and pieces of dried cheese. We tried this one year, and multiple sacks of flour and jugs of oil later, we had a big oily mess. The next year we tried adapting an unleavened bread recipe. It worked a bit better but still wasn't quite right. This year, after my Christmas craft discovery, we decided to construct the ul boov out of salt dough then stamp them...and not only did it work beautifully, but we never have to worry about making it again - after Tsagaan Sar dinner, Sean deconstructed and packed away the cookies for next year's centerpiece.
- We taught Finn the traditional Mongolian greeting, and he welcomed our guests to the gathering. Finn speaking Mongolian in his gruff little voice was one of the highlights of the evening for me.
All in all, a very successful and celebratory Tsagaan Sar gathering. From our family to yours, we hope your two-year-old horse has enough fat for the winter, your two-year-old yak has enough muscle, and all of your animals passed the winter safely!