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Tibetan New Year

Tibetan New Year

The most important festival in all of Tibet is the Tibetan New Year, which is equivalent to that of Lunar New Year among Han people, or to that of Christmas in Western countries. The Tibetan New Year is a festival to say goodbye to the old and welcome in the new. People begin to prepare for this festival at the beginning of the 12th Tibetan month. They put sacrifices, such as wheat, chang (Highland Barley Wine), and other specialties, on the altar to welcome the coming year. On Tibetan New Year’s eve, before sunset, people pour out dirty water and discard their old things. By doing this, Tibetans think it can ensure the fertility of both their crops and their families. Tibetans clean and redecorate their houses, with the belief that the cleaning will drive away evil spirits and bad luck.

In the evening, torches and fireworks are lit to scare ghosts away and families will go for a walk together until they reach a crossroad, which they believe will confuse the ghost and make him unable to follow them home. Then on then on the morning of the 1st day, family hostess is the first person to get up. After washing up, she gets “fresh water” from the river or the well. The first hostess to get this “fresh water” is believed to be able to bring good luck to the family. Then, after feeding all the animals, she wakes up the other members of the family.

On the Tibetan New Year, everybody dresses up. Before dining, they put some tsamba on their lips to symbolize that they are the offspring of people who eat tsamba. Local people will make butter lamps as sacrifices to their ancestors, along with some grains. They will then share toasts with their neighbors and exchange good wishes. On the second day, they start visiting their relatives. Usually, girls will get together with their sister-in-laws to play a a game of“snatch food” against guys. Through this “food snatching”, guys and girls can get to know each other.