Laba Festival (腊八节Làbā jié) is a traditional Chinese holiday celebrated on the eighth day of the twelfth month of the lunar Chinese calendar (La Yue). Laba Festival was originally an occasion for people to give sacrifices to their ancestors, and to pray to heaven and earth for a good harvest and good luck for the family. Now it has become a day to have Laba Porridge.
Laba Porridge is also called Eight Treasures Porridge. That is because the porridge is made of eight main ingredients including rice and sticky rice, red dates, lotus seeds, walnuts, chestnuts, almonds, longans, hazelnuts or peanuts. People put all these ingredients together, make them into a porridge and have it with the whole family, wishing for a happy and healthy coming year.
Another important thing on this day is to make Laba Garlic. People put peeled garlic into a jar with Chinese vinegar and seal it up till Chinese New Year’s Eve. When the whole family gets together for the dumplings feast on Chinese New Year’s Eve, they take out the Laba Garlic to have with dumplings. After about 20 days, the garlic will be green in colour and has a vinegary flavour and the vinegar (also called Laba vinegar) will have a garlic flavour, which is the best dipping in sauce for dumplings.
Just like people in Ireland will start decorating the Christmas tree on the first Sunday of December, Chinese people will start the preparation of Chinese New Year since Laba. Cleaning houses, preparing all different kinds of food, buying fireworks… You can get the festive mood everywhere.
So from today, WeiWei’s Chinese Kitchen will be presenting a serial of festival dished for the Chinese New Year Feast, let’s have a great Chinese New Year experience together!