Folk performance at the annual She Huo Festival in Shanxi Province in February 2012.
After living in Beijing for 10 years, I have gotten used to seeing people send off the Chinese Spring Festival with the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month in the Chinese lunar calendar. At the Lantern Festival, people usually eat rice dumplings, watch fireworks and appreciate lanterns. In this way, they end the Spring Festival holiday and start a new year.
Recently, I discovered there was another similar festival on the same day in Jinzhong City, North China's Shanxi Province: the She Huo Festival. At this festival, in addition to fireworks and lanterns, local people celebrate with various folk performances. It is a grand celebration to end the Spring Festival across China.
Located in the center of Shanxi Province, Jinzhong is 500 km or about 5 hours' drive from Beijing. It has long been famous for the ancient city of Pingyao, which was the best preserved ancient city in China and was listed as a World Heritage Site in 1997. In 2007, the city won another big honor. This time it was the title "Cradle of She Huo."
The She Huo Festival dates back 2,500 years. She refers to the god of land and Huo refers to the god of fire. So this festival was originally held to worship the two gods. The festival hit a peak during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The major reason was the rise of the Shanxi merchants during the two dynasties. The economic prosperity boosted the development of culture and entertainment.