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How the Tibetans Spend New Year

The New Year’s Festival is called losar in Tibetan Language. Being one of the most important festivals in Tibet, this festival is a feast of thanksgiving, and usually celebrated from mid-February to early March. Different from the Han Chinese people’s Spring Festival, the Tibetans’ losar has very conspicuously ethnic flavor and characteristics.

-Draw Guqia
During the Tibetan Losar, the Tibetans would use the Tsam-pa (aka zanba, a Tibetan food, roasted qingke barley flour) to draw the eight auspicious pictures in the Tibetan Buddhism, such as treasured parasols, golden fish, treasured vases, snow lotus, lucky knots, trumpet shells, triumphant tents and golden wheels. The pictures are called Guqia in Tibetan language. The Tibetan people decorate their houses with Guqia, something like the Han Chinese paste up the couplets on both sides of the doors on New Year's Eve.

-Eat Xiangzhai
Traditionally, the Tibetan people would eat Xiangzhai in the first evening of Tibetan Losar. Xiangzhai is made from curry, ghee, rice, potato and cooked mutton. This food takes very delicious.

-Eat Gutu
Like the Northern Han Chinese eating Jiaozi (Chinese dumpling) on the evening of the New Year's Eve (30th of Chinese Lunar Calendar). On the Eve of Losar (29th of Tibetan Lunar Calendar), the Tibetan families usually seat around the table to enjoy a special dumpling - “gutu”, its wrapper is made from Qinke (a highland barley) and fillings are meat, little stones, wool, red pepper, charcoal and coins etc. When somebody eats a gutu, s/he must tell the others what the fillings s/he has got. The Tibetans believe that the fillings can indicate the eater's character. 

-Dispel the Ghosts
The activity of “dispelling the ghosts” is held in the evening of Dec. 29 (Tibetan lunar calendar). After dinner, Tibetan men kindle a firebrand and run in a ring in every corner of their houses and say “get out of here, get out of here…” After that, they throw the firebrands and some food (for the ghosts) on the crossroads. By this way, the Tibetans believe that the setbacks and whammy of the year have been driven out of their houses, and they will meet a new year in the clean houses.

-Invite the Dogs to Eat a Meal
After dispelling the ghosts, the Tibetan families will invite the dogs to eat a meal. They put the food in the wooden bowls or place the food on the long wood boards and invite the dogs enjoy the food.

-Water Rush
One who can fetch the first bucket of water in the river on the first day of Losar is consider as a lucky person. For fetching the lucky water, in some areas of Tibet, some people even take their buckets and rush to the rivers at the midnight. They would stay on the riverside until daybreak when they can fetch the water. 

-Offer Sacrifices to the Harvest Goddess
After taking the first bucket of lucky water back home, the Tibetans would take some Qingke wine (made from the Qinke barley), fruit and Tsam-pa to sacrifice to the Harvest Goddess in their own best cropland. Unlike the daily-eat Tsam-pa (aka Zanba, usually Tibetans' staple food, roasted qingke barley flour), today's Tsam-pa must be made with the lucky water in a bowl that set before the statue of the God (usually, the bowl is always being set there all the year round).

-Meet the Zhega Buskers
Tibetan people usually get up very early on the first day of the New Year because they have to meet a very important old busker. When the busker say "Zhega" outside their doors, the families open the doors and invite him get into their houses and serve him a Khatag and a cup of Qingke wine, at the same time, they sprinkle some Tsam-pa and kernel on his body. The Tibetan people think that this way can bring them good luck in the New Year.   

-Put Up Auspicious Pennants
It can be said that without rituals there is no holidaymaking in Tibet. On New Year's Day, Tibetan would put up colored pennants with Buddhism scriptures on the roofs or the top of the hills. At the same time, they ignite the holy grass, place Qingke Wine and food before the pennants (or at home) and pray for a good harvest and a safe, sound and growing family. After praying, they enjoy singing and dancing around the pennants.

-Pay Homage and Make the Pilgrimage
During Losar, pay Homage and make the Pilgrimage is also a must for the Tibetan people. They make pilgrimage to the temples or lamaseries, light the ghee lamps and say their prayers there.

-Pay New Year Call
Like other nationalities of China, the Tibetan people also pay New Year call during their Losar. They hold Qingke (a kind of highland barley), ghee flowers, Qingke wine, Qiema (the colored ears of barley) out of houses and pay a call to their relatives and friends.

"Longguo" in Tibetan language means "place a colored ghee sheepshead in the center of the niche for Buddha (and amid the other offerings)". In Tibetans' belief, sheep is a propitious animal, they consider this rite can bring them a bumper grain harvest and the domestic animals are all thriving.

-Make Dega
Dega is a kind of fried wheaten food. During losar the Tibetans usually place Dega four layers in the center of a cabinet as the main offerings.

-Make Ttszhuo
Ttszhuo is the shaped flowers made from Ghee. It has many patterns, and monkey, the god of longevity, deer, elephant, the sun, the moon and lotus flowers are commonly found in each family. The Tibetans use Ttszhuo as offerings because it is an auspicious sign in their belief.

-Plowing Ceremony
Plowing ceremony is held on the fifth day of the Tibetan losar by the farmers. In this day, all the Tibetan farmers dress splendid and decorate their cattle look well. They drink and eat and serve their cattle with wine and food like what they eat. This activity is known as “giving thanks to the cattle.”

Tibetan New Year Festival reveals with all kinds of entertainments, such as horse race, archery, wrestling, running, singing, dancing, setting off firecrackers and games etc. The Tibetans usually enjoy these activities on the vast grassland nearby their houses.

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