Tibetan New Year Festival

The Tibetan New Year is a common and the grandest traditional festival for Tibetan people. There is nothing different between the monk and ordinary person on the ways of celebration in New Year. The Tibetan New Year is calculated according to the lunar calendar used by the Zang nationality. The festival lasts 15 days from January 1st to January 15st. The festival activities are permeated with strong religious atmosphere, for the belief in Buddhism is widely spread in Tibetan. Tibetan New Year is an important national festival whose form consists of Gods entertainment, human entertainment, celebration and praying.


The Tibetan calendar can date back to around 100 B.C. As agriculture was developed gradually in the Yalong area, farmers would have a party to celebrate their harvest when the crops were mature. Year after year, the event slowly formed the regular celebration. People would celebrate the festival until they harvest the wheat.

It is said that, before the Tang Dynasty, the moment of wheat ripening was the day of the New Year. Later, the relatively close contacts were appeared between Tang and Fan, for the Tang Dynasty`s princess Wencheng married into Tibet. Many cultures, including celestial almanac, from central plains gradually spread into Tibet as the cultural exchanges between central plains and plateau area became more and more frequently. Then, the habit of treating the moment of wheat ripening as the New Year was changed into celebrating the New Year with Han at the same time.

Tibetan New Year Festival Culture

Customs and Habits

There are many differences between Tibetan and Han people in the ways of festival celebration. All families without exception will make preparations for the Tibetan New Year when the lunar December is oncoming. Several days before the New Year, all old and young men need to have their head shaved, and all old and young women need to wash and comb their hair. It means that there are some sorrows and grieves within family or people`s heart if they don`t make their hair done. Washing and combing will bring next year`s good luck and happiness to people. The up and down of houses, the inside and outside of yards, the paths of village even each corner of farmland will be cleaned up from December 28th.

Before celebrating the New Year, the men come from different stockaded villages will ride to the "Holy Mountain" or saintly mountain to cut some branches of BaiXiang tree, and then they pack it to home. These branches are the main raw material which will be sacrificed to the God “Weisang” during the festival. The women will brew barley wine or mixed wine, fly various kinds of oily snack and make butter. Each Household will carries the garbage and rank grass they`ve cleared to their respective farmland. These garbage and rank grass will be fired in the morning of the Lunar New Year's Day.

Tibet New Year Celebration

December 29 is the New Year's Eve. On this day, people will move away the old door and window curtains, and then put on the new one. Some auspicious pattern, like a cross, will be painted on door, beam and kitchen. All these new stuffs form a festive atmosphere. At nightfall, the whole family will stay together to enjoy a family Reunion Dinner named “Gutu”. The “Gutu” is a kind of gruel which consists of flour pimple, mutton and sapodilla.

Then, the whole family use Zanba to knead an evil female and two bowls. People put scraps and bone from “Gutu” into that two bowls. An appointed woman will throw that evil female and two bowls out of house, and a man will set fire to a group of hay and closely follow the woman, saying: “the devil out, the devil out”. Let the hay, an evil female and two bowls be burnt to ashes. At the same time, the children set off firecrackers to drive away evil and usher in a propitious new year.

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