Diet Customs of Han People in Hainan
Hainan cuisine is light and fresh, with an emphasis on preserving the original flavor of the freshest, best ingredients. There is plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, and seafood, thanks to the excellent tropical island climate. The four signature dishes of Hainan are Hele Crab, Wenchang Chicken, Jiaji Duck and Dongshan Mutton, but there are plenty of other great eats, like garlic steamed oysters, coconut rice, BBQ sucking pig, and great desserts like fried ice and qingbuliang. Drinking tea or coffee and snacking in the shade is popular during the heat of the afternoon, so find the local tea shop and join in the fun!
If you visit a local family’s house, you should bring some small gifts. Trinkets from your home country, like postcards or stamps will be very popular, but a few pieces of fresh fruit is ok too, and you can pick it up on the way!
During the meal, don’t knock your chopsticks loudly against the dishes, or use them to point at anyone. Remember not to stick them upright in your rice! Lay them down across the top of the bowl or on the chopstick rest when not in use.
Buddhism, Islam, Catholicism, Christianity and Taoism are practiced in Hainan, which has a total religious population of around 80,000, with the majority believing in Christianity and Buddhism. Local gods and ancestors are also worshipped here.
The Li and Miao peopleare the largest minority groups in Hainan.The Li people are the earliest settlers in Hainan, and still observe distinctive customs in residence, diet, clothing, weddings and festivals.Their best known traditional festivals, such as the Sanyuesan Festival (Third Day of the Third Lunar Month), and folk dances like the Bamboo Dance, Rice Threshing Dance and Money Bell Knife Dance, are beautiful and exciting.
Living mainly in the mountainous areas in central and southern Hainan, the Miao people mostly make a living from farming, with some engaged in business. Both men and women prefer azure blue as the main color for their traditional clothing. Using their own wax printing technique, the Miao people in Hainan produce exquisitely woven and embroidered fabrics featuring rich patterns in bright colors.
Cuisine of the Li and Miao People
Li hosts won’t start eating until all senior guests have been seated at the table, and they always fill the guests’ bowls first. Alcohol is a must for the Li people when they have guests. Male guests should drink before eating, while female guests should drink after eating, but it’s ok to drink tea or water if you feel uncomfortable consuming alcohol. It is customary for the hosts to only drink with their guests but not to eat with them, to make guests feel right at home. Be careful not to turn your wine glass or rice bowl upside down, or cross your chopsticks on the table.
The Miao people are also very hospitable, and always offer their guests alcohol. Male guests should drink before eating while female guests drink after eating but it’s ok to drink tea or water if you feel uncomfortable consuming alcohol. The hosts may place food directly into the guests bowls to show hospitality. Some of the Miao people are Christian, and these families pray before meals. The Miao people have a strong taboo against eating dog or cat meat.
Hainan people worship their ancestors with offerings of chickens and ducks on the 1st and the 15th day or the 2nd and the 16th day of the first lunar month each year and on major festivals.
Junpo Festival is the biggest folk festival for people across Hainan. It is held to worship the historic heroine Madam Xian (513-603).
The Sanyuesan Festival (literally, the third day of the third lunar month), is a large traditional festival celebrated by the Li and Miao people in late March or early April. During the festival, traditional sporting events and contests of strength and skill are held, as well as folk arts exhibitions and food festivals.
Flower Exchanging Festival
Hainan Li, Miao have to celebrate the customs. Every year in late March or early April (the lunar calendar "March" period) are held in Hainan International Coconut Festival, it is financial tourism, culture, folklore, sports, trade and economic integration in one large tourism and cultural festivals.
Danzhou Folk Song Festival
The Danzhou Folk Song Festival is celebrated every year on mid-Autumn day (the 15th day of the 8th lunar month), with a variety of activities such as singing Danzhou folk songs, singing competitions, and moon watching.
Celebrated at the end of the year, the annual Hainan Carnival is a province-wide celebration of Hainan life, with over one hundred Hainan Carnival associated events and activities held throughout the island. Most of the events take place at the main Carnival Venue, which is held in a different Hainan city every year. The Carnival features parades, song and dance performances, food festivals, tourism expos, photography competitions, and much, much more. There’s something for everyone at the Hainan Carnival!
Dragon and Lion Dances
The dragon and lion dances are traditionally held to celebrate the Chinese Lantern Festival and other major festivals, but can sometimes also be seen at other events, such as the opening of new businesses. The dragons and lion costumes used by the dancers are hand-made by local craftsmen.
Dragon Boat Festival
During the Dragon Boat Festival every year, the Chinese national dragon boat race starts at North Hele Harbor in Hainan's Wanning City.