The traditional Chinese Laba Festival and its porridge

January 16, 2011 | Posted by Vicky

A staple of the Laba Festival, laba porridge can feature a variety of ingredients

This past week the traditional Chinese Laba Festival holiday was celebrated in China. A lunar holiday, it falls on the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month.

On this day in most parts of China, it is customary to eat laba porridge, which is made of many kinds of grains, melons, fruits, beans and nuts. Generally the laba porridge has a sweet taste, while families in the central plains of China are reported to like a saltier version. Therefore besides normal ingredients like rice, millet, and beans, it is common to add shredded meat, cabbage, and others.

Perceived benefits of laba porridge

Laba porridge is popular because it is regarded to have a number of positive health benefits. It's regarded to strengthen the spleen, help appetite, relieve nerves, nourish the blood, and fight against the cold. As it's considered one of the best foods to eat during the winter, laba porridge has been popular from generation to generation for thousands of years.

The origin of the Laba Festival

The Laba Festival has Buddhist origins meant to observe the sacrifice involved in Buddha's enlightenment, including celebrating the harvest, paying respects to one's ancestors, and offering sacrifice to the gods.

Attitudes towards the Laba Festival

In addition to eating laba porridge, there are many other folk-customs in the twelfth month of the lunar Chinese calendar. In ancient times, people would sprinkle the laba porridge on one's door or fence as a gesture of sacrifice to the traditional Chinese god of the five cereals. But nowadays in modern China, people do not believe in gods like in the past, and those that follow custom do so out of tradition rather than superstition.

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