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Blacking day of the Xibe ethnic group

Updated: 2014-04-02
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The Xibe people celebrate blacking day to keep wheat from smutting. It falls on January 16 of the lunar year. People blacken their face before sunrise on that day with colly that is prepared beforehand. Although people must stay in their homes on the day according to the customs, they have some interesting rituals that make the day colorful. Younger people will kneel down before the elderly in their homes and dot a bit of colly on the foreheads of the elderly. After that, people can blacken each other’s faces until they turn totally black. Young women are an exception. This ritual represents begging for god’s mercy to exempt the wheat from smut. There are many legends about the origin of this festival. One legend has it that a woman was baking a pancake when her son defecated. In confusion, she cleaned the kid’s bottom with the pancake. Her mistake infuriated the Jade Emperor, a god in Chinese folklore, who decided to burn down all human beings and their foodstuff. The god of earth heard about the Jade Emperor’s decision and decided to help the poor human beings. So he told people to blacken their faces to mislead the god, who would believe that the people had been tortured and thus end the punishment.