The Laba Rice Porridge Festival
Time of the Festival
Lunar calendar: December 8th
The lunar December is also called La Yue while Yue means month in Chinese, so the 8th of La Yue is also called La Ba (Ba means eight in Chinese).
Interpretation of the Festival
December, also called La Yue in Chinese, is the end of the year. Farmers in ancient years had nothing to do. They went out hunting to get more food to make up for the inadequacy of the food and to get the hunting beast to worship the ancestor and God for blessing their peace and happiness.
December is also a celebration month of the whole-year harvest. People use all kinds of grains to cook to thank the Grain God.
Origins of the festival
People in ancient times had various forms to celebrate the harvest, thank the ancestors and Gods (Door God, House God, Kitchen God and Well God), such as the worship and sacrifice. Besides they had also another thing to do, that is the expulsion of the epidemic. At first, Laba Rice Porridge was set on the third day after the winter solstice. With the development of the festival, it was set in December 8th.
Related legend of the Festival
Some said that Laba Rice Porridge Festival came from the custom of Red Bean exorcise Demons. Three sons of Zhuanxu, who was one of the ancient five emperors, became devils after their death. They came out specially to frighten the kids. Most of the people in ancient times were superstitious. They were afraid of the devils and they believed that all the kid's diseases were from the devils. But the devils were feared of the red bean. So on lunar December 8th, people cooked porridge with red beans to drive away the devils.
Some said that during Qin Shi Huang, who was the first emperor of Qin, all the migrant workers were ordered to build the Great Wall. They were not allowed to go home, and their family had to send them food from far away home. Some of the workers' homes were too far away and they couldn't wait for the food to death. One year on December 8th, workers who has no food to eat layed up few cereals. They put them into the pot and cooked the porridge. Everyone of them eat the porridge but it was not enough that they died under the Great Wall. After that people eat Laba Rice Porridge to memorize the workers who were hungry to death under the Great Wall.
Some said that once upon a time, there was an old farmer couple. They lived with their son. The old man was very industrious and the old woman was very thrifty. The family was not rich but they had enough to eat and wear. They were also very kind that they usually helped the poor. Their son was strong but too lazy to surprise. He did nothing but eating and sleeping. The parents thought that maybe after their son's marriage, the young couple would know how to live. Unexpectedly, both of them were too lazy that even when the oil bottle was upside down they would not touch it. Right before the death, the old parents preached the young couple how they could live after the parents' death. But they did not take it seriously. They still did nothing but squandering the existing things. Years after years, they squandered out. But the neighbors helped them for their parents' sake. It was quite cold in December. In December 8th, they had nothing in the house and they were hungry and cold. They attempted to find something to eat but only found little rice and few beans in the seam of the ground. They dug them out and put all the different things they found like corn, soya beans and sorghum that could fill their stomach into the pot to cook. Then as they ate the porridge they felt regret and mournful. Suddenly the house collapsed since it had not been renovated for years. The young couple died in the ruins with half a bowl of beans porridge beside. From then on, the villagers cooked beans porridge for the family in December 8th to educate their children and grandchildren.
Areas of application
Laba Rice Porridge Festival is usually celebrated in Han nationality in most of the areas in China.
Eat Laba Porridge
Make Laba Garlic
Sun Laba Tofu
Eat Laba Noodle (Some places where there's no rice)