New Year of Gelao Ethnic Group

Feeding the Tree at New Year

Qilao people have two New Years every year: Spring Festival and Qilao New Year, the latter of which is on March 3rd by the lunar calendar. The date and customs of Spring Festival are mainly the same as Han people, except the special activity of “tree feeding”. “Tree feeding”, also “tree sacrifice” or “tree worship”, is from their worship towards old trees and their belief of pantheism. In various autonomous county of Longlin, Guangxi Privince, on the noon of January 14th by the lunar calendar, Qilao families would go with relatives and friends to the mountain to worship the tree, carrying such offerings as rice wine, pork, fresh fish, sticky rice, and so on, and also firecrackers. The firecrackers are fired at the sight of trees, and then they choose a tall and huge old tree, burning paper money and joss sticks, and getting down knees to worship it. After that, it is feeding the tree. One person cut 3 opening in the bark while another feed some rice and meat therein. Then they seal the openings with red paper, do weeding and earth up the foot of the tree. While feeding, different words are said to different trees, for instance, to fruit trees “I feed you rice and meat, and you bear clusters of fruit,” wishing a harvest of fruit. After feeding, people feast together. In some districts, on August 15th by the lunar calendar, people carry bull hearts and newly harvested rice to worship the holy “Tree of Buddha”, praying for a good harvest.

In some places, it is called “mountain worship” instead of “tree worship”, since Qilao people live in mountain area for generations, and possess a deep love and respect for the mountain. A ceremony is held in a one village, allowing only male adults to attend it. Apart from offering sacrifices, the shaman sings “Song of Mountain Worship”, bidding the mountain god to render safety of the whole village, a good harvest and a thriving of both people and domestic animals.