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Laba Festival

Laba Festival is a traditional Chinese holiday celebrated on the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month. Its a day for celebrating harvest, offering sacrifices to ancestors, and worshiping gods. But above all, it is a day for cooking Laba Congee, a hodgepodge 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 peoples beautiful expectations of a happy life.
 Folktales abound as to the origins of eating congee during Laba Festival. According to the most famous one, the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang (reigned 1368-1399), used to herd cattle for a rich man. One day, his carelessness caused a leg of one of the cows to be broken. The rich man was so angry that he locked up the culprit in a small room and didnt allow food to be given to him. After some time, the famished Zhu Yuanzhang found in a corner of the room a rat hole that contained a supply of stolen red beans, rice, red dates and other produce. These he boiled into congee, on which he feasted voluptuously. Because that day was the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month, the emperor Zhu Yuanzhang named the congee Laba Congee.


In North China there is a custom of pickling garlic 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 same pronunciation; therefore, eating garlic on Laba Day is symbolic of reckoning the years income and expenses as year-end approaches.

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

In some areas, people boil five kinds of beans and make a dough in the shape of sparrows head on the eighth day of the 12th lunar month. They believe if they eat sparrow heads, the sparrows will have headaches and not harm their crops in the coming year.


 
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