As an important traditional Chinese holiday, the Laba Festival is celebrated on the eighth day of the twelfth month of the lunar Chinese calendar. On the day, it is the custom to eat Laba Porridge, worship the god and ancestors and prayer for good harvest and luck.
Before Qin Dynasty, the festival was a celebration of the good harvest and worshiping the ancestors and indigenous god in the twelfth month of the lunar Chinese calendar. It hadn’t been fixed on a certain day until the Southern and Northern dynasties. It was deeply influenced by Buddhism and was considered as the enlightenment day of the Buddha. Since then, the customs of the Laba Festival are firmly connected with Buddhism. In Qing Dynasty, the ceremony held in Yonghegong Lama Monastery in Beijing was the most famous among the local people.
Laba Porridge is the most popular food on the day. Nowadays it is the tradition to eat Laba Porridge in massive area of Northeast, Northwest of China and South of Yangtze River. However it is seldom to celebrate the festival in South of China and Taiwan. Usually, the porridge has sweet taste which is made of the fresh rice and fruits. In middle China, some farmers like salty porridge. The history of Laba porridge dates back to Song Dynasty over 1000 years ago. On the day, from the imperial kinsmen to officers in the local government, from monks to the common people, they would make Laba porridge. Firstly, they would use it worship the ancestors and god. Then they would present to the friends or relatives before noon. Finally they eat it on the family reunion. Sometimes they would intend to leave some porridge in purpose which would bring them the good fortune in the next year.
In the north of China, making Laba Garlic is also a famous tradition for common people on Laba Festival. After 2-3 weeks, the Spring Festival (Chinese Lunar New Year) would arrive. On the eve before Spring Festival, each family will make dumplings to celebrate new year. They would like to eat the dumplings with the Laba Garlic (pickled Garlic with vinegar) and vinegar. It is absolutely a tasty new year food. You are worthwhile to taste it if it is possible during your trip.
In a certain degree, the Laba Festival is the prelude of the important Spring Festival. For most families, people would like to do shopping for food, snacks, clothes and presents to prepare for the coming Spring Festival. And it is absolutely necessary for Chinese people.