The most celebrated festival of the Miao ethnic group, the Miao New Year, was added to China's non-material cultural heritage list on June 7th, 2008.
When It's Celebrated
Miao New Year is celebrated at different times of year in different regions, usually in the period from the ninth to the eleventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar, and usually lasting 5 to 15 days. Most Miao people celebrate New Year in the 10th month of the lunar calendar, after the rice harvest.
Miao New Year Activities
Each household prepares abundant provisions before Miao New Year, including pork, mutton, beef and rice wine. Of these, glutinous rice wine is probably the most important. People worship their ancestors by offering various kinds of fruit, and send gifts to one another.
Worshiping ancestors has been an indispensable Miao custom ever since ancient times. It is mainly attended to by elders of the villages, and they offer fresh fruit and meat to their ancestors to express respect and remembrance.
Lusheng (a musical instrument made from bamboo) performances are often held in the 'Lusheng Hall', first by a little boy, followed by other players together. Young girls and boys wearing new and magnificent Miao costumes, bedecked in silver ornamentation, dance to the music. Miao girls entertain guests from afar with homemade rice wine.
Visitors are recommended to partake of the rice wine to help enjoy the festival to the full.
Visiting the Neighboring Villages
It's an important tradition for Miao people from a given village to visit neighboring villages during Miao New Year. This can strengthen understanding, friendship, and cooperation between different villages.
All the people from one village wear a festive costumes to visit a neighboring village while beating drums and gongs and playing the lusheng. They serenade the host (usually the village head) of the neighboring village by playing three pieces of music before entering the village, and then the host and his fellow villagers welcome their guests by playing the lusheng in return.
After greeting each other, people from the two villages convene a party through the night, when a lusheng-playing competition is held to entertain the guests. It's an ideal chance for the young to seek their life-long partners.
Bull, Horse, and Cock Fighting
Bull fighting, horse fighting, and cock fighting are also convened during the festival. Bullfighting is considered one of the major traditional events of Miao New Year, attracting thousands of people.
The Development of the Miao New Year Festival
Initially, the Miao New Year Festival was only celebrated among the Miao in Kaili, Majiang, Leishan, Danzhai, and Huangping of Guizhou Province; followed by the Miao in Du'an, Bama, Dahua, Pingguo and Long'an of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Now it's widely celebrated among all Miao.
Witness Miao New Year for yourself; it’s a great time to visit the Miao areas. China Highlights can create a private tour for you based on your requirements.