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Folk shehuo (Springtime Festivities) in Shanxi

Folk shehuo (Springtime Festivities) in Shanxi

As a popular entertainment during Spring Festival, the ancient folk art Shehuo (springtime festivities), originates in the worship of earth and fire. "She" is translated as "the god of earth", while "huo" is translated as "the legendary god of fire." In ancient China, agriculture was regarded as the cornerstone of society and earth was the essential method of sustenance. Fire was how people cooked their food and kept it warm which played an indispensable role in people's lives. In ancient times, people worshipped fire for its deities, thus, the custom of offering sacrifices to the gods of earth and fire were common. With further social development and improvements to people's understanding, amusing elements were incorporated into rites that were becoming a very popular entertainment for their rich content.

Shehuo is categorized in two parts: Shehuo arrays and Shehuo acrobatics. The arrays include Bu shehuo (In costume), Bei shehuo (Standing on shoulders), Ma shehuo (On horseback), Che shehuo (On carriages), Xinzi shehuo (On a steel bracket), Shan shehuo (social fire that is performed by standing on the top of steel frames), Mianju shehuo (Mummery), all of which show the beauty of the roles and the craftsmanship of the performers. Shehuo acrobatics consist of Ditai shehuo (performed after sunset) and stilt shehuo (On stilts), both of which feature acrobatic, courtyard battles.

The themes of Shehuo originate in folk tales and traditional opera, thus telling a story through depicting one or a group of people. Performers wear costumes and make-up while carrying props. The processional order is the following: first, a scout on horseback; second, a flag-bearer; third, the artillery; fourth, more flag-bearers; at last, musicians.

With the Chinese government's reform-and-opening-up policies (since 1978), the folk art Shehuo has brought on a high development and is an eye-catching folk-culture activity among the Chinese people.