Dong New Year’s grand tradition unveiled in Guizhou

Photo taken on December 12, 2023 shows Dong women standing at the entrance to their village to extend a warm welcome to guests in Jiuwai Dong Village, Rongjiang County, Guizhou Province. /CFP

Photo taken on December 12, 2023 shows Dong women standing at the entrance to their village to extend a warm welcome to guests in Jiuwai Dong Village, Rongjiang County, Guizhou Province. /CFP

On a winter morning, bursts of joyful singing echoed around the Dong Village, breaking the peaceful silence. Adorned in traditional Dong ethnic clothing, women stood at the entrance to the village, extending a warm welcome to guests from nearby villages and from farther afield as they arrived to partake in the festivities for Dong New Year. This scene unfolded in Jiuwai Dong Village, Rongjiang County, southwest China’s Guizhou Province.

Dong New Year remains an important tradition for the Dong ethnic group. On this day, people express gratitude to ancestors for their blessings and celebrate the moment of an abundant harvest and family reunion. This festival stands as a grand exposition of Dong culture, showcasing its rich customs and traditions.

Photo taken on December 12, 2023 shows Dong women dancing in groups to celebrate Dong New Year in Jiuwai Dong Village, Rongjiang County, Guizhou Province. /CFP

Photo taken on December 12, 2023 shows Dong women dancing in groups to celebrate Dong New Year in Jiuwai Dong Village, Rongjiang County, Guizhou Province. /CFP

Photo taken on December 12, 2023 shows Dong women dancing in groups to celebrate Dong New Year in Jiuwai Dong Village, Rongjiang County, Guizhou Province. /CFP

Among all the Dong ethnic festivals, Dong New Year is considered the most grand and festive, much akin to the lively atmosphere of Spring Festival. However, the timing of Dong New Year celebrations varies among Dong communities. In the southern Dong dialect region, it usually takes place between late October and early November, while in the northern region, it occurs between late November and early December.

On both occasions, a variety of activities such as parades, group singing, and dancing are held.

Photo taken on December 12, 2023 shows Dong women celebrating Dong New Year in Jiuwai Dong Village, Rongjiang County, Guizhou Province. /CFP

Photo taken on December 12, 2023 shows Dong women celebrating Dong New Year in Jiuwai Dong Village, Rongjiang County, Guizhou Province. /CFP

Photo taken on December 12, 2023 shows Dong women celebrating Dong New Year in Jiuwai Dong Village, Rongjiang County, Guizhou Province. /CFP

The grand banquet, known as the long table feast, serves as both New Year’s Eve dinner and a moment for family reunion. In Dong culture, savoring delicious food is also an indispensable part of the festive season where special delicacies such as oil tea, sticky rice cakes, and sweet glutinous rice wine are served.

Dong New Year stands as a distinctive festival, with its roots deeply embedded in the Dong ethnic group’s extensive history of agrarian life. In 2011, it was included in the third batch of China‚Äôs national intangible cultural heritage list.

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