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Answer to Everything You Need to Know about the Chinese Laba Festival

Jan. 19, 2015

Correct Answer: B

The Laba Festival, or “腊八节(Làbā jié)” in Chinese, is coming up on January 27, 2015. What is the Laba Festival and what will Chinese people do on this day? The following text will help you learn more about this traditional Chinese festival.

The Laba Festival is a traditional Chinese holiday celebrated on the eighth day of the twelfth month of the lunar Chinese calendar. The custom first originated in the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279) and became popular in the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911). It is said that, at that time, Buddhism was well accepted in the areas inhabited by the Han Chinese, who believed that Sakyamuni, the first Buddha and founder of the religion, attained enlightenment on the eighth day of the twelfth month. Sutras were chanted in the temples and rice porridge with beans, nuts, and dried fruit was prepared for the Buddha. With the passing of time the custom extended, especially in rural areas where peasants would pray for a plentiful harvest in this way.

So how do people celebrate this festival? The answer lies in the eating of Laba rice porridge.

Eating porridge on the Laba Festival is a very old tradition. Since ancient times, Chinese people have attached great importance to growing crops, so when the land bears a good harvest after years of hard work, the farmers will show great appreciation by making sacrifices to their ancestors as well as heaven and earth. Boiling Laba porridge is one way people celebrate their harvest.

Laba rice porridge contains glutinous rice, red beans, millet, Chinese sorghum, peas, dried lotus seeds, red beans and some other ingredients, such as dried dates, chestnut meat, walnut meat, almonds, peanuts, etc. Actually eight key ingredients cooked with sugar to make the porridge tasty. Northerners prefer to use glutinous rice, red beans, dates, lotus seeds, dried long’an pulp, walnuts, pine nuts and other dried fruits in their porridge, while southerners like a salty porridge prepared with rice, soybeans, peanuts, broad beans, taro, water chestnuts, walnuts, vegetables and diced meat. In the north, it is a dessert with sugar added; in the south, salt is added in. Some people like to add cinnamon and other condiments to add flavor.

After hours of boiling, the porridge is offered as a sacrifice to the ancestors and is presented to friends before noon. Family members eat Laba porridge together and leave some uneaten, symbolizing a good harvest next year.

In addition to Laba porridge, many different types of pickled vegetables and special dishes are popular during the Laba Festival, including garlic pickled in vinegar and pickled Chinese cabbage.

Now let’s return to the test. Chinese people eat dumplings and rice dumplings during the Spring Festival, and Laba porridge is eaten for the Laba Festival. That means the correct answer is B.

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