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Ningbo village resumes traditional celebrations

chinadaily.com.cn| Updated: February 9, 2023 L M S

[Video provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

After a three-year pause, Xi'ao village in Ningbo, Zhejiang province resumed its traditional new year celebration on Feb 8.

For residents of Xi'ao village, the 18th day of the first lunar month, which falls on Feb 8 this year, is more important than the Spring Festival and marks the start of a new year. On the day, people visit family and friends, and the village is adorned with festive decorations.

The highlight of the festivities is a dragon-lantern ceremony titled xing da long, or dragon walking. During the ceremony, which is held at night, people carry giant dragon-shaped lanterns through the village. It is a new year celebration with a 770-year history that locals hold in hope of an auspicious year.

At around 8 pm on Feb 8, two giant dragon-shaped lanterns carried by over 80 men trailed through the village, along with the sound of firecrackers and fireworks, drums beating and gongs clanging. The "dragons" met at an ancient bridge and ended their more-than-hour-long walk at an ancient temple.

Having been suspended for three years, the traditional celebration not only made locals excited but also attracted many visitors. Children sat on their fathers' shoulders and photographers were busy taking pictures.

"I come specially for the ceremony. It's spectacular," said a visitor surnamed Wu.

Xi'ao village, located in Ningbo's Ninghai county, was built during the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420) and is one of the oldest villages in Eastern Zhejiang province.

According to a genealogy record in the village of Chen's family, the xing da long ceremony was launched by Chen Wenwei, a high-ranking official during the reign of Emperor Chunyou in the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), in 1252. The tradition had been upheld for generations until it was halted in 1927.

To preserve the tradition, a 32-meter-long yellow dragon lantern was made in 2003. Traditional art crafts, such as bamboo weaving and woodcarving, were used in the making of the lantern. In 2004, Xi'ao village resumed the traditional celebration. In 2008, a cyan dragon lantern with a length of 39 meters was added to the ceremony. 

In 2012, the xing da long ceremony was listed as an intangible cultural heritage item of Zhejiang.