It’s the Lunar New Year today. The Spring Festival, as it’s known in China, is an occasion that’s actually celebrated right across East Asia, usually on the same date. So it’s New Year in Vietnam, Korea and Mongolia, as well as for many in the Chinese diaspora in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and so on. Happy New Year!
Tibetan people usually celebrate their New Year (Losar) at the same time, but the Tibetan calendar is lunisolar, which means that it is regulated by the positions of both the sun and the moon. The days are calculated according to the solar calendar (like ours), and the months according to the lunar calendar (which begins and ends with the new moon). The solar calendar has 365 days in a year. The lunar calendar has 371. Over the course of a few years these few extra days in the lunar system accumulate to an additional month, so Tibetans add a thirteenth month into their calendar every 2-3 years to make the average Tibetan year equal to the solar year. 2022 is one such year.
To complicate matters further, the Tibetan New Year, as elsewhere, marks the beginning of the spring, the point at which farmers must head back to the fields for a new season of farm work. So even though Losar doesn’t officially fall until early next month, many people in Tibet will need to observe the new year today. And some of them will even have done so already. If the grass is there for their animals, the nomads will surely be away on the plateau.
All this is to say that New Year is a very fluid thing in Tibet. There’s certainly no countdown, and where Yeshi is from if there are any rules at all the only one that applies is that you celebrate when the time is right for you. This is very much in keeping with the way that time is experienced in Tibet as a whole. Dates are not really a thing: generally speaking Tibetan people know what needs doing by looking at the sun in the sky and observing subtle changes in the land below.
We’ll be celebrating Losar in March, and look forward to sharing some of the food traditions around this festival then. In the meantime we are open as usual this week, opening hours as follows:
Wednesday: 5-9.30pm (dinner only)
Thursday – Saturday: 12-3pm (lunch) / 5-9.30pm (dinner)
Happy Lunar New Year to all those celebrating and we look forward to seeing everyone soon!
Julie and Yeshi