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Mandarin Go | Chinese Culture-Laba Festival(腊八节 Làbā jié)

Laba Festival(腊八节 Làbā jié)

Part 01 The origin of Laba Festival  腊八节的起源

Laba Festival(腊八节 Làbā jié) is a traditional Chinese holiday celebrated on the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month. It's a day for celebrating harvest, offering sacrifices(祭品) to ancestors, and worshiping gods(拜神). But above all, it is a day for cooking Laba Congee (腊八粥), a hodgepodge (大杂烩) of grains, beans and dried fruits used to invoke peace and good fortune.


Chinese people believe that eating congee during Laba festival will bring good luck. Laba Congee is infused with Chinese people’s beautiful expectations of a happy life.


Laba is celebrated on the eighth day of the last lunar month, referring to the traditional start of celebrations for the Chinese New Year. 'La' (腊)in Chinese means the 12th lunar month and 'ba' (八)means eight.


Legends about the origin of this festivity abound. One holds that over 3,000 years ago sacrificial rites called La(腊) were held in the twelfth lunar month when people offered up their preys to the gods of heaven and earth. The Chinese characters for prey(猎) and the twelfth month(腊La) were inter changeable then, and ever since La has been used to refer to both. Since the festival was held on the eighth day of the Last month , people later appended the number eight ( ba in Chinese), giving us the current Laba.


Part 02 The legend of Laba Festival 腊八节的传说

When Sakyamuni was on his way into the high mountains in his quest for understanding and enlightenment, he grew tired and hungry. Exhausted from days of walking, he passed into unconsciousness by a river in India. A shepherdess found him there and fed him her lunch – porridge made with beans and rice. Sakyamuni was thus able to continue his journey . 


After six years of strict discipline, he finally realized his dream of full enlightenment on the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month. Ever since, monk shave prepared rice porridge on the eve and held a ceremony the following day , during which they chant sutras and offer porridge to Buddha. Thus, the tradition of eating Labaporridge was based in religion, though with the passing of time the food itself became a popular winter dish especially in cold northern China.


Part 03  Laba Festival customs    腊八节的习俗

1. LABA PORRIDGE   腊八粥(bā zhōu

The laba porridge is not only a yummy traditional rite in China to mark the laba festival but also a delicacy (美味)good for health.


2. LABA GARLIC 腊八蒜 suàn)

ln North China there is a custom of pickling garlic(浸泡大蒜) in vinegar on Laba Day. After some pickling, the garlic will turn green. This pickled garlic goes very well with dumplings. In Chinese, the words “garlic” and "calculate” have the similar pronunciation; therefore, eating garlic on Laba Day is symbolic of reckoning the year's income and expenses as year-end approaches.


3. LABA NOODLES  腊八面(làbā miàn)

Because northerners like foods made from wheat flour, they eat Laba noodles on Laba day.



Northerners have a custom of leaving a basin of water outside the house to be frozen ; they break this ice into pieces and eat it on Laba Day. The ice on this day is said to possess supernatural power, capable of keeping those who eat it free from stomachache for a whole year.





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