New Year's customs of ethnic groups in Jinjiang


Jinjiang town near the Jinsha River is located in the southwest of Shangri-La City, Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. Tibetan, Naxi, Bai, Miao, Lisu, Yi, and Pumi people have dwelt in this town for generations. Throughout the ages, all ethnic groups in Jinjiang lived together in harmony, cultivating the beautiful and rich land with diligence and hard work, creating a varied and remarkable life with their great wisdom. The cultural pattern of multi-cultural integration and the social tendency to advocate knowledge and talents were formed long ago. Reporters arrived at the Xinglong Village, where different ethnic groups live together and found that local groups were constantly blending in their historical development, keeping their fine traditions while simultaneously absorbing the excellent culture of other ethnic groups.


"The main residents in our Xinglong Village are Bai, with other ethnic groups like Yi, Lisu, Han, and Naxi, consisting of the veritable multi-ethnic villages. Different ethnic groups have retained their own characteristics and incorporated other cultures in clothing and architecture. Villagers always work together when there are important affairs in the village, no matter what nationality. Generally speaking, we do not visit each other on New Year's eve, and every family leaves enough time to prepare the dinner. We are busy on the first day of the New Year. Men need to get up early, while women focus on the dressing. There is also the custom of competing for fetching the first bucket of water in our village. From the 0 o'clock of the New Year, every family will immediately set off firecrackers and then compete for fetching the first bucket of water, which is what locals call the 'fortune water,' which place wishes of everything will go well in the new year." Shi Xiaoxuan, a retired cadre and intellectual of Diqing Daily, said.


Bao Xiuqin is a local Naxi woman. She said Naxi has many unique customs for the New Year. Naxi people are pretty careful about the dinner on New Year's eve, as the dishes should be twelve in each family, representing twelve months of the year. The traditional custom of "99 pairs of chopsticks and 100 kinds of dishes" has been perfectly inherited in Xinglong Village. Leek roots and meatballs with Lily bulbs have become two indispensable dishes in local Naxi people's New Year's eve. Slender leek roots correspond to 99 pares of chopsticks, and meatballs with Lily bulbs correspond to 100 dishes (Lily is homonymous with 100 in Chinese). At the same time, pig head broth with Chinese cabbage is also essential. Cabbage needs to be well chosen and can not be cut off, meaning longevity. Meanwhile, cabbage can not be chewed when eating this dish. Young people need to say encouraging words to elders after older people bless them. The older people eat first, then other people. After dinner, everyone washes their feet and puts on new clothes, and then children visit neighbors, which locals regard as an auspicious activity. The elders of each family would send the red envelopes to children, implying a good omen of a year.


Local Naxi people live together with Bai people. One of the Bai villagers, Wang Xian, said, Bai has many similarities and differences with Naxi. On the eve of the New Year, the family of Bai get together and make the Baba, a snack made of rice. The fresh Baba is one of the necessary cuisines of Bai's dinner; both children and elders are fond of it. Bai has an interesting custom of diet that elders always ask children not to add soup to rice, which means the crops would be drowned in the rain just like the rice in soup. After dinner, all people would play the cucurbit flute and enjoy the traditional dance to have a lively New Year.


Each Lisu family settled in Xinglong Village has a tree as their patron saint and spiritual sustenance. On the eve of the New Year, Lisu villagers began to get busy early. They spread a layer of pine needles in front of the tree and then provide a whole chicken to their patron saint to pray for good weather and peace in the coming year. One of the villagers, Tang Guixiang, said: "In the past, the local Lisu people sat on the ground during the New Year. Adults laughed and chatted, and children enjoyed shredded chicken and rice pilaf. With the improvement of living conditions, customs also changed greatly. Every family eats at the table now. After dinner, villagers sing ethnic songs and dance together."


There are also some Tibetan people in Xinglong Village. Mei and Lazong's sisters have lived there for more than 20 years. Mei said: "In our hometown, everyone could get a part of pork at the beginning of the New Year. We have not got home for many years, but we still can get the part of pork from our families. It's not only a slice of pork but also the care and concern from our families."

Find your beauty and that of others; share the beauty and achieve unity. Every villager of Xinglong Village is deeply aware of the importance of national unity and affinity.

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(Editors: Irene, Ines)

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