In China, December of the lunar calendar is called the La month, so the date of December 8th is also the Laba Festival.
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The Laba Festival is a traditional Festival of China that is regarded as the preface of the Spring Festival.
In Chinese, Laba means 'gold eighth' which refers to the traditional start of celebrations for the Chinese New Year - the eighth day of the last lunar month.
On this day a special hot rice porridge, called Laba Zhou, is eaten, which contains glutinous rice, red beans, millet, Chinese sorghum, peas and some other ingredients, such as dried dates, chestnut meat, walnut meat, almond, peanut, dried lotus seeds etc. Midnight, on the previous night, people will begin to stew the porridge and make preparations. It won't let out an attractive smell until the next morning. The flavor varies from place to place, in the North, it is a dessert with sugar added; in the South, and the salt and seasonal vegetables are added.
This Tradition has its roots in the Buddhist faith. It is said when Sakyamuni left home to strive for virtue, he fainted on the way because of hunger and exhaustion. A shepherdess passing by saved him and cooked porridge for him with glutinous rice and nuts. Then Sakyamuni sat under a bodhi tree in meditation and found Buddhism. As a result, the believers formed the habit of cooking Laba Zhou to commemorate it.
There is another interesting story about Laba Zhou. In the past there was a man who led a wasteful life. One winter, he eventually ran out of food. His neighbor gave him the grain he dumped before and cooked the porridge. Afterwards eating Laba Zhou became the way to teach children thrift in managing a household.
Another custom is to prepare Laba vinegar for Jiaozi on the New Year Eve. People will skin garlic and put them in the vinegar. It will have a distinctive flavor with time passing by.
More About Traditional Chinese Festivals
- Double Ninth Festival
The 9th day of the 9th lunar month is the traditional Chongyang Festival, or .
- Dragon Boat Festival
The , the 5th day of the 5th lunar month, has had a history of more than 2,000 years.
- Laba Festival
In China, December of the lunar calendar is called the La month, so the date of December 8th is also the .
- Lantern Festival
The falls on the 15th day of the 1st lunar month, usually in February or March in the Gregorian calendar.
- Mid-Autumn Festival
The falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, usually in October in Gregorian calendar.
- Mongolian Festivals
There are many festivals in Inner Mongolia.
- Qingming Festival
The is one of the 24 seasonal division points in China, falling on April 4-6 each year.
- Spring Festival
The is the most important festival for the Chinese people and is when all family members get together, just like Christmas in the West.
- Spring Festival Custom Of Ethnic Minority Groups
Besides Han, many ethnic minority groups also have their own ways to celebrate this traditional festival.
- Tibetan Festivals
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- Winter Solstice Festival
The Winter Solstice became a festival during the Han Dynasty and thrived in the Tang and Song dynasties.