Sisters Meals Festival of Miao People

Written by Sally Guo Updated Jun. 18, 2021

Date: 15th-17th of the third lunar month

Place: Taijiang and Jianhe Counties in the Guizhou Province

The Sisters' Meals Festival is celebrated by the Miao people in Southwest China's Guizhou Province, especially in Taijiang and Jianhe Counties along the banks of the Qingshui River. It is considered the oldest Asian Valentine's Day (as well as a celebration of springtime) where young singles still come out hoping to meet a soul mate.

A few days before the festival, local Miao girls collect special wildflowers and leaves from the mountains to produce natural color dyes for the glutinous rice known as "sisters' rice."

At festival time, the girls dress up in their finest including elegant and beautifully elaborate silver headdresses, crowns, neck rinks, and chest locks. Silver is used predominantly because it is a symbol of purity. They then gather together by the riverbank to prepare their "sisters' rice." The rice has dyed a range of colors such as blue, red, yellow, and white to represent spring, summer, autumn, and winter respectively.

When the young men arrive at their village of choice, they slowly single out the women they hope to marry someday and then sing for them. The young women respond to their songs by giving them a drink of rice wine and the sisters' rice wrapped in handkerchiefs that contain different symbols. A pair of red chopsticks means "I love you too;" one chopstick means "no, thank you;" garlic or red chili indicates a flat refusal, and pine needles indicate that the boy should present silks and colorful threads and that she will wait for him.

There are also many other activities especially for the elders who already have a partner, including bullfighting, horseracing, drum dancing, rowing, and Lusheng music.

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