Happy New Year (of the Dog): How to Celebrate like a Buryat
Around the shores of great Lake Baikal in south central Siberia, the indigenous Buryat people enjoy a New Year’s celebration that lasts an entire month. Called Sagaalgan, “White Month,” the holiday is a hybrid of shamanist and Buddhist traditions, and it begins just before the Lunar New Year. In 2018 this takes place on February 16 and ushers in the Year of the Dog, when loyalty, honesty, and friendship are highlighted.
The shamanist Sagaalgan holiday celebrating the coming of spring became linked with Buddhism, and came to represent the triumph of good over evil. In Buddhist tradition, the color white embodies the idea of purity and renewal. Hence, “White Month.”
(click on photo to see larger version)
It’s customary to burn old and worn-out goods to represent release from the sins of the past year. In Siberian Buryatia, they believe that a peaceful and happy Sagaalgan celebration will be followed by a happy and successful year.
Sagaalganar! Happy New Year!
Travel to Siberia with MIR
If you’re specifically interested in visiting the Buryat Republic, we recommend these small group tours:
Travel on your own dates, on our classic, independent itinerary:
Ride the Trans-Siberian Railway aboard a private train:
- The Trans-Siberian Express Between Moscow & Beijing: Eastbound / Westbound
- The Trans-Siberian Classic Route: Eastbound / Westbound
- The Trans-Siberian Mongolian Route with Naadam Festival: Westbound
- NEW! Trans-Siberian BAM Explorer with Naadam Festival
- The Trans-Siberian Winter Wonderland Route: Eastbound / Westbound
Chat with a MIR destination specialist about travel to Siberia by phone (1-111-111-1111) or email today.
(Top photo: A Buryat greeting ceremony, near Lake Baikal. Photo credit: Michel Behar)
PUBLISHED: February 9, 2015