The Torch Festival, or Fire Festival, is a pinnacle holiday for the Yi and Bai people of Southwestern China. Celebrated on 24th-26th day of the 6th lunar month of the year, these people of Southwestern China erect large pyres, carry lit torches, wearing elaborate traditional clothing, visiting ancestral tombs, and butchering animals. The celebration commemorates the legendary wrestler Atilabia, who drove out plagues of locusts using a torch made of pine. One of the most popular activities is the large bonfire where there is music, played by instruments like the yusheng, yueqin, and sanxian, dancing, and feasting.
To celebrate this momentous occasion and to bring luck, peace, and prosperity to your home, you could light a bonfire in your back yard and enjoy Chinese music or watch this live stream of 2018’s Torch Festival. Explore this music and traditional instruments with your ensemble members. Visit Yunnan or the Zheijang and Jiangsu provinces to celebrate in person, if that is a possibility for you. Do your research into the traditional clothing that single men and women from the Yi people wear to signify that they are looking for marriage.
This blog post is part of a series linked to our Music Celebrations Around the World calendar. Download the calendar for access to information about musical celebrations and holidays with strong musical components to share in your music classroom or with your ensemble members!