The Tibetan new year, Losar is traditionally a three day celebration, and falls at some point in February. Tashi Delek is a traditional greeting used especially during Losar, and roughly translates to “Blessings and good luck!”
Losar is most celebrated in Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, and parts of India and includes praying, dancing and feasting. In Bhutan, the celebration may continue on for two weeks. There are many traditional Losar foods such as bhatsa marku (a sweet mac & cheese), and Khapse (a fried pastry).
One of the traditions for the days leading up to Losar is cleaning, and other activities that symbolize purification, such as burning lots of incense and purging old possessions. Tibetan incense has a strong, earthy fragrance and is generally used for offerings and to clear negative energy.
The weeks before Losar is also a time to reflect upon and celebrate the Eight Auspicious Symbols. The Eight Auspicious Symbols — a parasol, a pair of fishes, a treasure vase, a lotus flower, a conch shell, an endless knot, a victory banner and a golden wheel — represent the offerings made to Shakyamuni Buddha upon his enlightenment. Read more about the eight auspicious symbols here.
The cleaning out at the end of the old year, is then followed by welcoming in a prosperous new year. Some people build a special Losar shrine to honor this time of year and to help welcome in the good. You can read the basics of creating a home altar here.
Wearing new clothes is another way to reflect a clean start to the new year. Losar is also a good time to hang prayer flags.
For 2019, Losar falls on February 5-7, and it’s the year of the Female Earth Pig. Tibetan astrological signs are based on a 60 year rotation and combine animal characteristics, the elements, and the sun and moon. According to Shambhala Publications, “Earth years are calm, stabilizing, prosperous, and favorable to agriculture.” People born in the year of the Earth Pig are thought to be loyal, loving, hardworking and popular. Emma Thompson, Magic Johnson, Lee Daniels, and Sheena Easton were all born during the last Earth Pig year, 1959.