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Tibet New Year

The Tibetan New Year is celebrated from December 29 through January 15 by the Tibetan calendar. The calendar, with a history of 1000--old years, has retained its peculiarities although it was greatly influenced by the Han and other nationalities. It's interesting to learn these Tibetan folk customs before your trip to Tibet, just as appealing as the Tibetan scenery attractions.

Traditionally, all Tibetan families start in the middle of December, to prepare butter, milk tea, buttered tea, Qingke Wine (This wine is called Chang or Chong in Tibetan; Qingke is a kind of highland barley in China), mutton and some other holiday food. On the night of December 29, they do a thorough cleaning and dump all the waste at crossroads, believing that the dirty things harmful to the health and happiness of the family members are thrown away with it.

On New Year’s Eve, the families clean up their courtyard and spray water on it. They adorn the doors and windows with colorful fragrant cloth, and display on a table a Qiema (a container), a sheep head, Qingke wine, fruit, etc.

Before daybreak on Tibetan New Year’s Day, people burn pine rosin and place dyed Qingke barley and ears of wheat on the roof, a wish for a prosperous new year. Women get up early to carry home buckets of auspicious water from the river. The other family members stay in bed, waiting to wash their faces with the water. This done and livestock fed, men put on new Tibetan robes and boots while women are dressed with colorful Bangdian (that is, aprons), and headdress dotted with corals, agates and pearls. The mother of the family then places the Qiema before everyone and each takes a little Zamba (the Tibetans’ main food) out of it while saying prayers like Zhaxidele (all the best) and Geshaersang (Happy New Year). Visits not allowed, all the family members stay home and enjoy holiday food and drinks.


Potala Palace Statues
Statues in Potala Palace
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