The Hui are a Chinese ethnic group with a relatively large population – among the top three ethnic groups in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
The Hui people in Xinjiang write in the same way as the Han people. Their language retains some dialects from Northwest China blended with some Uyghur, and Kazak language together with some religious words. Chinese is commonly used among the Hui people, who also speak Arabic. Most of them believe in Islam, and live near mosques. Imams take charge of religious activities, and the disciples, who learn the Koran, are called Muslims.
The two main traditional festivals of the Hui ethnic group are the Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. Before the festivals, every family sweeps their house and makes food to entertain guests. During the festivals, they visit relatives and friends and express good wishes.
The Hui ethnic group’s marriage customs are distinctive. Although young people can now date freely, when it comes to marriage, a matchmaker is usually needed to propose a marriage and bring presents to the girl’s family, including a bag of sweets, tea and walnuts.
According to Islamic canon, the dead are interred without a coffin. Before burial, people of the same gender as the dead scrub the corpse with clean water and wrap it in white cloth written with scriptures. Usually some borneol or musk will be put into the dead person’s mouth, on their forehead, hands and feet. Then the corpse will be carried to a mosque, and after an imam chants sutras, it will be buried at the cemetery.
The Hui people eat meals such as noodles with soup or sauce, jiaozi, steamed buns, and pastries. They only eat ruminant herbivores, such as beef, lamb, camel, chicken, duck and fish. Their specialties like chow mein, crude pancakes soaked in mutton soup, are popular among other Chinese ethnic groups.
On festivals, wedding ceremonies or banquets, the Hui people often make fried food (dough twists and pastries), nine bowls of steamed food (arranged in three lines) or a bean starch tube soaked in mutton soup with ingredients such as lamb or goat, tomatoes, red pepper, spinach, etc.
Now in Huocheng, Xinjiang, many young people wear fashionable clothes, but the elderly and some rural women still wear clothes in the Hui tradition: men above middle age wear white shirts, black waistcoats and white caps; women wear a white or blue cloth hat.