Zhangjiajie Travel Guide

Tujia Ethnic Minority Spring Festival


Tujia Ethnic Minority Spring Festival, also known as Tujia New Year, is the most colorful and important festival for Tujia People.Tujia New Year is also named "Gannian" or 'Diaonian Meeting' which is celebrated one day before the lunar New Year of the Han people. On that day, people prepare sumptuous dinners, and dance together. Here lists some important customs and activities of Tujia New Year Festival.

Preceding Days 


Dec 1st-23th (Lunar Month): Making  Cured Meat                                                

The cured meat, also known as bacon, is a product prepared from a pig and usually cured. " Killing pig for new year " is called "Sha nian zhu" by Tujia people. Every family of Tujia village would  kill a pig  and make cured meat before the new year coming. It is first cured using large quantities of salt, either in a brine or in a dry packing; the result is fresh bacon (also known as green bacon).Fresh bacon may then be further dried for weeks or months in cold air, or it may be boiled or smoked. Fresh and dried bacon is typically cooked before eating, often by frying. Boiled bacon is ready to eat, as is some smoked bacon, but may be cooked further before eating.

 

Dec 24th (Lunar Month): Going a fair, Little New Year's Festival  

According to the legend, todat is the marrigae date of the cat's daughter.After 24th,Dec of Chinese lunar year, Tujia momen will be very busy, they should begin to prepare all goods for the new year.Going a fair is called "Gan Chang "by Tujia people. In the morning,Tujia villagers carry thier back-baskets to go a fair. In the fair, they buy what they need for the new year festival,sell or exchange goods. After that, they go home and usually have a family's reunion dinner to celebrate the Little New Year's Day.

Little Year's Day is the 23th or 24th of the last month of the year. It is said that this is the day the food god will leave the family in order to go to heaven and report the activity of family to the Emperor of the heaven. People will follow religious ceremony to say farewell to the food god, including taking down and burning the paint of the food god. After the New Year's Day, people will buy new paint of the food god and display it in the kitchen.

 

Dec 25th ( Lunar Month): Making Ciba

Ciba is also glutinous rice cake whch is cooked glutinous rice pounded into paste. Ciba is the traditional food and gift of Tujia Ethnic Minority. Each family of Tujia Village will make Ciba on this day. 

 

Dec 26th ( Lunar Month):  Making Tangyuan

Tangyuan is a Chinese food made from glutinous rice flour mixed with a small amount of water to form balls and is then cooked and served in boiling water. Tangyuan can be either small or large, and filled or unfilled. They are traditionally eaten during the Lantern Festival.Tujia people make Tangyuan on this day as food for the new year.

 

Dec 27th ( Lunar Month): Making Tofu

Tofu, also known as bean curd, is a food made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into soft white blocks.Usually, every Tujia woman can make Tofu because it is a Chinese traditional food with over 2,000 years history.

 

Dec 28th ( Lunar Month): Cleaning and Decorating

A few days before the Chinese New Year, Tujia people will do a complete cleaning of the house and house wares which signifies to remove the old and welcome the new. Historically, when bathing did not occur often, people would normally take one to welcome the New Year.

After the cleaning, Tujia people will decorate the house to welcome the New Year. Most of the decorations are red in color. The most popular New Year decorations are upside down fu, dui lian, lanterns, year paint, papercutting, door gods, etc.


Tujia New Year's Day

Dec 29th ( Lunar Month): Tujia New Year , Family's Reunion Dinner

Tujia New Year is also named "Gannian" or 'Diaonian Meeting' which is celebrated one day before the lunar New Year of the Han people.On that day, people also prepare sumptuous dinners, and dance together.

Tujia Family's Reunion Dinner is usually held from todays morning to the early morning on Dec 30th of lunar month. Reunion Dinner is believed to be the most important meal of the year. Big families of several generations sit around round tables and enjoy the food and time together.Before eating, the family must call the dead ancestors to have a toast and eat the family reunion dinner.This activity is named "Jiao Fan" for Tujia people. Then the Rrunion Dinner starts.After dinner,Tujia people set off firewaorkers outside to inform they have finished the Reunion Dinner.And then, all members sit around a fire for talking or go sleeping.

Dec 30th ( Lunar Month): New Year Eve

Happy New Year to the dead ancestors is an important customs.Usually, father goes with his sons and daughters to the tombs of the dead ancestors,and send lighter to the death.This activity is called "Song Liang" which means sending or giving lighter to the death, and it is must-do before night coming for Tujia people from this day to Jan 03rd of lunar month.

CCTV New Year's Gala is Chinese New Year Gala which is abbreviated as Chunwan in Chinese. CCTV New Year's Gala is a live TV program broadcasted on CCTV to celebrate the turn of the lunar New Year. And it is already a ritual for Chinese families to watch the TV gala after the reunion dinners on the New Year's Eve...More

Shou Sui means "after the New Year's Eve dinner" as family members will normally stay awake during the night. Some people just stay up until the midnight after the fireworks. According to tales and legends, there was a mythical beast named the "Year". At the night of New Year's Eve, the "Year" will come out to harm people, animals, and proprieties. Later, people found that the "Year" is afraid of the color red, fire, and loud sounds. Therefore, at the New Year's Eve night, people will launch fireworks, light fires, and stay awake the whole night to fend off the "Year".

Fireworks are used to drive away the evil in China. Right after 12:00PM on New Year's Eve, fireworks will be launched to celebrate the coming of the New Year as well as to drive away the evil. It is believed that the person who launched the first firework of the New Year will obtain good luck.

The Red Packet is a red envelope with money in it, which ranges from one to a few thousand Chinese Yuan. Usually the red racket is given by adults, especially married couples, and elderly to young children in the New Year days. It was believed that the money in the red packet will suppress the evil from the children, keep them healthy, and give them a long life.


Jan 01( Lunar Month): Stay at home

Today,Tujia people can get up very late.It is must to stay at home on the first day. But especially younger people should visit and greet the older relatives, and also send lighter to the dead ancestors in the afternoon.

Jan 02( Lunar Month): Happy New Year to Parent-In-Law

Visit Parant-in-law. From today, Tujia people can go out for greetings,It is the first greeting to visit parent-In-Law.Son-in-law should go with his wife and kids altogether to visit the mother's family.And he should give gifts including Wine,Ciba, Cured-Meat,Sugar or cakes when they visit their parent-in-law.Certainly, the parent-in-law will give them red-package.

Jan 03-14( Lunar Month): Happy New Year to relatives and friend

During these days,Tujia people like to visit family each other to greet new year.But traditionally, they need visit relatives and send gifts each other.

Jan 15(Lunar Month): Lantern Festival

As time goes by, the Lantern Festival has enjoyed more and more celebrating activities. Some places even add traditional folk-custom performances such as playing dragon lantern, Lion Dancing, stilting, striking land boat, doing the Yangko, and striking Peace Drum. The Lantern Festival, a traditional Chinese festival which has undergone a history of over 2,000 years, is still very popular both at home and abroad, and any place where Chinese people live will witness a busy occasion on that day....More


Taboos of Tujia New Spring Festival

These taboos usually apply up to a month for Tujia People before the festival and continue to the end of the festival (day 15, the Lantern Festival).

  • Tujia people believe that they mustn't do cleaning or wash their hair in the first three days as that will sweep/wash away good luck.

  • No Crying. A cry of a child is believed to bring bad luck to the family, so the young are placated fastidiously.

  • No begging: To ask for a loan is a big "no-no".

  • No broken bowls,mags.

  • Don't say the number "four".

  • No calling the door while other's family eating the Reuion Dinner.

  • Closing the main door of the family on the 1st Jan of lunar month.

  • Another interesting thing is the red underwear.

  •  Zhangjiajie Travel Tips in Chinese New Year

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