New Fire Festival (Xinhuojie) of Wa Ethnic Minority

Chinese Name:佤族新火节/接新火节
English Name: New Fire Festival (Xinhuojie) of Wa Ethnic Minority

New Fire Festival is a traditional festival of Wa Ethnic Minority, which is also called Getting New Fire Festival. In the annual “New Fire Festival”, Wa people put out the old fire(旧火), then the elders with noble morality and high reputation(德高望重)will light up new fire via an ancient way—drilling wood to get fire(钻木取火). Every family in the village has to get new fire from the place where the new fire lit, and take it home and relight it. This portend the family will be lucky and safe and sound (吉祥安康)in the new year.

Brief Introduction

Wa people believe that they should not use old fire(旧火) when a new year comes, or there will be a fire. This is the reason they have such a custom of getting new fire every year. The date of New Fire Festival is equivalent to April or May of Solar Calendar, and the specific date will be decided by each village freely. The festival will last 3-5 days.


According to the legend, Immortal of Thunder, Dasai(雷神达赛)committed adultery with Immortal of Rainbow, Yayuan,(虹神牙远)who is his sister,which infuriated the Immortal of Sky, Li(天神里). So Li(里) triggered a flood to crush the village and drowned a lot of livestock and villagers. Yadong(牙董)(It is said that she was the third woman leader of matriarchal ethnic group in Wa Ethnic Minority)told Mowei(莫伟)(an immortal who create everthing) this. Mowei(莫伟) was so furious that he instructed Yadong(牙董) to confiscate Dasai’s(达赛) property and exiled Dasai (达赛)up to sky. Yayuan(牙远) was shamed and hid herself under the ground. Dasai(达赛) and Yayuan(牙远) left a child named Yanqiu(岩秋). Yanqiu (岩秋)was naughty. Once, he played rocks, and cause a fire.

The fire burned all the house in the village, and burned the whole word. People hated Yanqiu so much, so they swore never to use Immortal of Thunder’s fire anymore (It’s said that the earliest fire was given by Immortal of Thunder(雷神)). Then Mowei(莫伟) tough people to drill wood to get fire(钻木取火). From then on, Wa people held the activity of “sending old fire(送旧火)” and “getting new fire(造新火)” every year. Gradually, the traditional New Fire Festival came into being.

New Fire Festival includes four parts:

The first thing of New Fire Festival is “sending old fire”. Following the sound of gong and horn, every family in the village puts out their own fire pond(火塘)with water in unified time. And they wrap an extinguished charcoal which is chose from the most representative family (In the past, it usually took Wolang, headman, Moba’s (窝朗、头人、魔巴)family as representative) with bamboo leaves. Then it will be send and buried out of village by the the elders with noble morality and high reputation(德高望重). Killing chicken and casting spell shows that they cut off relationship of Immortal of Thunder’s(雷神) fire, and send the fire to its own place.

The next thing is “getting new fire(取新火)”. The the elders with noble morality and high reputation(德高望重) in the village light up new fire by “drill wood to get fire(钻木取火)” tough by Mowei(莫伟). Each family will relight the fire pond with new fire and welcome new fire into their home.

Then Wa people will check the measures of fire prevention. In April and May, it is the dry season in the Wa mountains. Wind and goods are dry, so fire hazard breakout easily. During “New Fire Festival(新火节)”, everyone walk out of the house to dig fire proof ditches, and repair fire pool, and splash water to the roof of the straw house, and install water bamboo tube, etc., so that they can eliminate potential fire hazards.

Finally, Wa people sing and dance happily to thank Mowei brought new fire and also brought luck and happiness to them.