Light up your Torches at the Torch Festival / Fire Festival
When it happens: June 24 to 25
Where it happen: China
History: According to some experts, the origin of Torch Festival (火把节)originated during ancient times based on the calendar of the Bai and Yi people. The calendar includes 10 months with 36 days in each month. There are two Star Returning Festivals celebrated in the summer and winter. These two festivals were considered to be the New Year. The one held in the summer was known as Torch Festival and characterize by the people lighting a torch. There are many other legends pertaining to the festival, and all of them have the same purpose of dispelling ghosts and offering sacrifices in order to wish for a bountiful harvest.
About the Festival: Torch Festival is celebrated by the ethnic groups of China including Lahu, Bai and Yi. It is a traditional event also known as the Carnival of the Orient. It features the lighting of torches and usually falls in June 24 or 25. During this time, people tie up big torches with dried lightwood and pine wood. You can also find small torches in front of every household. Simultaneously, you can also see people walking around the houses and fields while holding small torches and placing them in the corners of the fields. Inside the village, you will find young girls and boys dancing and singing around burning big torches all throughout the night.
There are many other activities to enjoy during the festival such as horse races, arrow shooting, tugs-of-war, bullfights, swinging, dance parties, wrestling and many more. There are also trade fairs and religious rituals. Different groups have their own unique celebrations. For instance, the Yi people use torches to form hurdles for riders during a horse race. The Hani people attach fruits to torches, and when torches are ignited they rush for fruits. On the other hand, the Lisu people hold grand torches parades and people swap torched when they meet.
Travel tips: When travelling for the festival, you should be cautious although the locals are glad to help foreigners. You sould also pay attention to their customs. You should take time to learn some of their common customs in order to avoid any form of embarrassment. For instance, the Chinese people are not fond of splitting the bill. So, if you do not want to offend you Chinese friend, try to avoid paying for your own portion of meal. You should also bring with you your passport at all times. Since June is in summer, you should bring with your cool cotton garments including t-shirts. The best way to see China is by foot. This way you can interact with the people along the way.
The Torch Festival is the best time to enjoy your summer night. You will surely enjoy this activity-filled event with your friends and family. Although different people have their own unique versions of the festival, you will be amazed of how they serve one purpose and that is to provide a good harvest not only to them, but to other as well.