Back home, my family are getting ready for Losar, or Tibetan New Year. This is without doubt the biggest celebration of the year, but in my village everyone always celebrates a little earlier than the actual event, as the farmers usually take off for the new season in advance of any official celebrations. The main reason is that our animals need to feed in pastures new: grass is sparse in the village area during winter.
This new year the village is celebrating super early. Most often, Tibetan New Year coincides with Chinese New Year, as both calendars are lunar. But this year, as Chinese people the world over prepare for the start of the new year next week, Tibetan people will need to wait until February 27th to mark the official start to their year.
The reason is as follows. The Tibetan year is divided into twelve months of 30 days each. But just as the maths doesn't quite work in the Gregorian (western) calendar (with its months of 28, 30 and 31 days, and the need, every four years, for a "leap" year), so a whole "leap" month is occasionally added into the Tibetan year, in order to keep the calendar year roughly aligned with the (tropical) solar year. 2017 is one such year.
This means that this year my family are way ahead of the official start to their year. No matter! Everyone in the village is doing the same, and as long as there is dancing and as long as food is served then the party is on!
Watch out for a "real" New Year's post later in February, when we look forward to introducing you to some of the traditional dishes served up during Losar. In the meantime, do feel free to wish us a Happy New Year any time from here on in, starting at the stall in Oxford's Gloucester Green this Wednesday (18/01/17).
༄༅།།ལོ་གསར་ལ་བཀྲ་ཤིས་བདེ་ལེགས་ཞུ། Losar Tashi Delek (Happy New Year)!