Laba Festival

The Laba Festival, celebrated on the eighth day of the 12th month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar, falls on Dec. 30 this year.

As an old Chinese saying goes, Spring Festival comes right after the Laba Festival. It is often seen as the signal of the arrival of the Spring Festival. 


The December of the lunar calendar is called "Layue" in Chinese, which includes three meanings. It means turning the old and ushering in the new. In ancient times, people worshipped ancestors with prey at the end of the year to pray for a good harvest and blessings in the coming year. It also means fighting against the epidemic and welcoming the new year. 

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It is regarded as the prelude to Spring Festival, reminding people to start their preparations for the coming Spring Festival, such as sweeping the house, purchasing Spring Festival goods and so on.

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Eating Laba congee is an indispensable food custom for the festival. in the Song dynasty, regardless of rich or poor, every family ate the Laba congee. Enjoying a bowl of Laba congee made people's day in cold weather.

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Laba congee is made of various mixed grains, dried red dates, longan, chestnuts, peanuts, water caltrop, walnuts, raisins and haw jelly.

Another Laba food is Laba garlic, which is particularly popular in northern China. People put garlic in vinegar to pickle until the garlic turns emerald green. It tastes slightly sour and spicy. Garlic in Chinese, suan, shares the same pronunciation with 'calculate'. It is said that in ancient time, merchants calculated income and expenses on the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month.

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Customs vary across the country. People in Qianxian County, Anhui Province, will eat the Laba tofu basked several days before. In Xining City, Qinghai Province, locals eat wheat kernel rice boiled with beef and mutton.

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Laba could be understood as the taste of nostalgia, the bowl of hot Laba congee, the emerald green Laba garlic, the golden soft Laba tofu... All the Laba food reminds us of the home in memories, which lead us to find the way back home wherever we go.

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(Editors: Rachel, Christine)

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