Tibetan New Year traditions

This year's Tibetan New Year (also known as Losar) and the Spring Festival fall on the same day, February 16th. What are the traditions for the Tibetan New Year?

Before the Losar, Tibetans will clean the house, replace the drapes hang on and above doors, and buy traditional holiday foods such as the kasai and brown sugar cubes, etc.

The most important cleanup in a Tibetan household is the "tuqi", done before the New Year. It is a tradition with much New Year's symbolism. Every year, around the end of December in the Tibetan calendar, Tibetan families would pick one auspicious day to do the "tuqi", cleaning away a year's worth of dust and grime, so they could welcome the New Year with a fresh start.

Kasai is a fried pastry used for entertaining guests, it is a must for celebrating the Tibetan New Year.

For "gutu" in the Tibetan language, the "gu" means the 9 in Tibetan, and the "tu" means "tuba", a kind of dumpling soup or barley porridge.

The tradition of having "gutu" originated from the ancient rite of scaring away demons, which could be quite formal. Over the years, more fun elements were added to the ritual.

On December 30th in the Tibetan calendar, or Tibetan New Year's Eve, the Tibetan residents always hang up prayer flags, replace the drapes above the door, and place the chema box, in hopes of good luck in the upcoming year.

During the Tibetan New Year, every house will offer chema in their house, a symbol of harmony and prosperity.