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Dong Year (New Year)


Date: From the 1st to the 11th day of the eleventh lunar month.
Place: Dong villages in Southwestern Guizhou Region

Dong Year, or new year (not to be confused with the Chinese New Year, or the Spring Festival, which is celebrated separately by all of the Dong people of China) is a traditional new year festival for a restricted group of Chinese Dong people, namely, the Dong ethnic people living in southeast Guizhou Province. The date for that occasion varies according to the exact locality, but it commonly falls during the period from the 1st to the 11th day of the eleventh lunar month. However, there are exceptions and in some particular villages, the festival takes place in the tenth month. The reason for beginning the new year at that time is that it is the time after the all-important autumn harvest. In another words, the appropriate time to be rewarded with rest and relaxation - and celebration - is between the end of one year's toil and the commencement of the next year's toil.

The Dong Year celebration is as important an occasion to the Dong people as is the Spring Festival (the Chinese New Year festival) to the Han Chinese people. In the days leading up to their new year, the Dong people make new clothes, clean their houses, make glutinous rice cakes, and slaughter pigs and cattle in readiness for the Dong Year feast. On the eve of the New Year, the Dong usually prepare a dish called "cold dish" that is prepared with bean curd and homemade vinegar. When prepared, the dish is put outside where it can freeze in the wintery air (whence the dish's name). The "cold dish" is a sacrifice to one's ancestors.