The Harvest Ceremony of Gaoshan Ethnic Group
A Ceremony to Celebrate the Harvest
Gaoshan people have a lot of festivals. However, Gaoshan ethic group also worships spirit, which is thought to flood in everything in the universe, ranging from the sun, the moon, the stars, floating cloud, rosy clouds, lightning in the vast sky to mountains, rivers, lakes, seas, birds, beasts, worms, and fish on the earth. So their traditional festivals are all religious and basically take the form of offering sacrifices. The typical ceremonies include cultivation ceremony, seeding ceremony, weeding ceremony, harvest ceremony, the fifth anniversary ceremony, ancestor’s spirit ceremony, fishing and hunting ceremony, short spirit ceremony, ship ceremony, flying fish ceremony, etc. Among them, the harvest ceremony is celebrated by all Gaoshan people excluding Yamei people.
As the grandest festival among Gaoshan ethnic group, the harvest ceremony is equivalent to the Spring Festival of the Han nationality. It is held in the harvest season, in July or August of the lunar calendar, lasting 6-10 days. Because different tribes live in different environment where different crops are planted, the maturing period and harvest period may vary with each other, which leads to different celebrating time. However, they have got some common features: When each link in the harvest chain (Gather in, taste the fresh grains, put in storage, etc.) starts or finishes, the ceremonies of offering sacrifices will be held to pray to the ancestor gods for their blessing on a smooth reaping process and another harvest season in the next year. After the rites, Gaoshan people would eat, sing and dance together, play games and hold bonfire party. People cheer and drink, totally immersed in the happiness of the festival.