China has 55 ethnic minorities with different cultures and traditions. Due to the culture differences among the minorities, each has its own unique and important festivals. Some of the festivals have been only celebrated in the groups; while some have become a public holiday in district level. Here are the top 5 ethnic minority festivals that attract much attention in domestic or even internationally.
Tibetan nationality: Sho Dun Festival
Time: August 18th
Sho Dun Festival is the most important festival that relates to religion in the Tibetan nationality. It is held by local minority people from July 1st to July 5th, the lunar calendar used by the Zang nationality , which is between late June to early July every year.
Considering that the festival is based on the lunar calendar used by the Zang nationality, which is not a fixed date of Gregorian calendar, the Tibet government holds the Sho Dun Festival every August 18th in public to welcome domestic and international travelers. If you are interested to take a trip to Tibet during this time, it is wise to book your train ticket(s) as early as popssible. Download China Train Booking app.
Sho Dun is the transliteration of Tibetan word of "yogurt". Literally, it refers to a party of yogurt. However, it is not a festival to enjoy the yogurt. Now Zang people will celebrate the Sho Dun Festival by playing the Tibetan Opera. Local people also call the festival "Tibetan Opera Festival".
Tibetan will wear colorful festive costumes and gather the family to watch the opera in the morning. The afternoon will be the time to drop around and feast. The host will toast to all the guests and sing a toast song. Everyone would drink off in 3 times.
Mongol nationality: Nadam Fair
Time: July 11th - 13th
July is the best time to taste kumis and the most fertile cows and sheep. It is the peak season for traveling in usual time.
The Nadam Fair is for Mongol men to compete in wrestling, horse racing, and archery. Horse racing attracts the most audiences. More than a hundred of riders and horses would line in a row. With the horn blowing, race gets started. The first five riders who rush to the destination will get rewards.
In 2006, the Nadam Fair is listed in the State-Level Non-Material Cultural Heritage List.
Uyghur nationality: Corban Festival
Time: July 19th - 20th 2021
The Corban Festival is the most important festival in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. It was origined from Mohammedanism and now it is celebrated not only by Uyghur nationality, but also by other Muslims including Hui nationality, Kazak nationality, Kirghiz nationality etc.
The Corban Festival is like Uyghur people's Spring festival. People will clean up the houses a few days before. The first day of the festival will be spent in a relative's or a neighbour's' house, who has hold funeral ceremony recently. The second day will be used to visit father-in-law and mother -in-law and send blessing.
People will get dressed in special Uyghur dresses and go to the mosque in the early morning. After that, there will be huge hearty feast together.
Dai nationality: Water-Sprinkling Festival
Time: Middle April
Water-Sprinkling Festival is one of the most famous ethnic minority festival in China. It is the most typical traditional event to show the water culture, music culture, food culture, and dress culture of Dai nationality. It was listed in the State-Level Non-Material Cultural Heritage List since 2006.
Most of Dai people live in Yunnan province, whose weather is relatively cool with temperature varies widely from day to night. In April, though the wehther is cool, it does not afffect Dai people's enthusiam to hold the Water-Sprinkling Festival. Everybody would watch the dragon boat race and go to the market to shoppping a lot.
It is believed that the first day of Water-Sprinkling Festival is not too lucky to wash hair, make haircut or work a lot. However, the second day is not clean so Dai people would wash bodies and hair, go to the barber's, dress up with new cloths, and clean up buddhist statues. There will be beautiful firework and Kongming lantern in the evening, which assembles to let go something bad or disease.
Zhuang nationality: San Yue San Festival
Time: early April
San Yue San Festival can be translated to the third day of the the third month of Chinese lunar calendar. Usually it will fall in the early April. This festival is not only celebrate among Zhuang nationality, but also among Han, Yao, Dong, and Miao nationality. Since 2014, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region has set up a 3-day holiday for people who live and work in Guangxi to celebrate the festival.
The local Zhuang people will hold singing parties to gether the youth to sing folk songs, just like a informal competition. They will also make colorful eggs and bring colorful silk balls in hand. These are for boys and girls to express love.
Elder people will make five colors of glutinous rice. The rice will be colored with red, yellow, black, purple, and white plant's juice. It is believed that the five colors rice will bring lucky and healthy to the whole family in the old legend.