The Festival of Westward Movement is a day to commemorate the westward movement of the Xibe ethnic group to guard border areas. As it falls on 18th of the fourth month in lunar calendar, it is called "the Four-one-eight Festival", or Family Remembrance Day for the people to express their homesickness. Every year on that day, the Xibe people in Xinjiang will gather for a picnic, performing dances to commemorate the heroic deeds of their ancestors in garrisoning the border.
The Festival of Westward Movement, with a history of over 200 years, is a traditional festival celebrated by Xibe people, whose forefathers had lived their lives on the Songnen Plain and Hulunbuir Grasslands before the 16th century. According to data, on 18th of the fourth lunar month in 1764 (the 29th year during the reign of Emperor Qianlong), a total of 3275 Xibe people, including 1018 government officials and soldiers together with their families, were called up by the Qing government from Shengjing (today's Shenyang City) heading for the Yili area of Xinjiang to cultivate and guard the border areas. On that very day, those about to leave gathered in Taiping Temple (their ancestral temple) in the city with those to stay, sacrificing their ancestors and having a farewell dinner. Then led by Manchu officials the next morning, they set their foot on the long journey to the Yili area, which took them a year and five months. Ever since then, April 18 of the lunar month each year is celebrated with sacrificing activities in temples, where meat and brown rice are prepared for each household commemorating the great deeds done by their ancestors in moving westward and guarding the northwest borders of China. It is also a time to recall their fellowmen in their hometown.