No festival is more colorful, interesting and worthwhile visiting than Miao Hmong New Year. Different from Spring Festival of Han Chinese, Miao New Year is the tenth month of lunar calendar. However, the exact date varies each year and is only known one or two months in advance.
The Miao Hmong New Year is a traditional festival to offer sacrifices to the Miao’s ancestors and to celebrate harvest. It is usually celebrated three times from October to December on lunar calendar namely “New Year Beginning”, “Big New Year” and “New Year End”, of which the “Big New Year” is the most popular one. “Big New Year” normally last three to five days or more than 10 days in some areas with big gatherings held.
Before New Year’s Day
With the New Year coming, every family does cleaning; slays chicken and pigs, makes glutinous rice cakes, makes rice wine and purchases food for the New Year. But on the first two days of the New Year, the Miao don’t do any cleaning work at home, and they are forbidden to chop wood on the mountains. Women don’t need to cook, but men have to do that. Women are happy with sewing new clothing for their family, especially for their children.
At the New Year’s Eve, all people stay up until midnight, and then they bring dragons to their home with firecrackers lighted. Every family worship gods and offer sacrifices to ancestors, praying for an abundant harvest of all food crops and safety of people and domestic animals. They also feed liquor to their bulls to thank them for their hard work. Then members of the family gather together happily and share a rich dinner.
During New Year’s Day
From the first day of the New Year, people begin to visit relatives and friends, wishing them a happy new year. Youngsters wear rich dress and take part in all kinds of entertaining activities as reed-pipe dancing, stepping to wooden drums, bullfight, horse race, roaming around, antiphonal singing, etc. The first three days are the best time to attend the festival. Thousands of Miao people dress in gaily embroidered silk costumes and wear full arrays of silver ornaments to celebrate their New Year, singing and dancing through the streets and gathering at the square to celebrate. You will see different kinds of dances and hear different folk songs as they come from different tribes and villages. Lusheng dance, horse racing, rooster fighting, and buffalo fighting are also held. Everywhere in the whole Miao village is filled with sound of firecrackers and reed-pipes. The whole region is immersed in atmosphere of joy and happiness.
At night, young guys from other villages come and flirt with girls. Girls dress up with beautiful silver ornaments and embroidered garments to meet the boys. This is called You Fang in local custom. Some young fellows even go to other villages by walking to take part in various social activities. This is a good time for people to visit friends and young people look for marriage partners.
The Miao fully enjoy themselves during 9 days of New Year. Many people have their weddings held and house built during this time, which adds the joyful atmosphere to the Miao’s New Year.
by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com
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