Posted by on May 10, 2012 in Chinese | 0 comments

In Chinese, Laba means 'gold eighth' and describes the traditional start of celebrations for the Chinese New Year - the eighth day's the last lunar month.

The Chinese New Year is the most significant festival for the Chinese people and happens when all members of the family get together, much like Christmas in the West. Everybody living abroad go back, becoming the busiest time for transportation systems of about half per month from the Chinese New Year.

In Chinese, Laba means ‘gold eighth’ and describes the traditional start of celebrations for the Chinese New Year – the eighth day’s the last lunar month.

Laba Zhou

Laba Zhou

Legend of Laba Festival:

It is stated that Laba rice porridge originated in India. As the son of the king in the north of ancient India, Sakyamuni couldn’t bear the local people’s struggling with illness and the theocracy ruled by Brahman (one of the four Indian classes). Consequently, he abandoned his lofty position and went to seek a method to enlighten himself based on religious doctrine. After six many years of enduring a really hard life and self-torture, he realized the truth of Buddhism while sitting under the bodhi tree on the eighth day’s the 12th lunar month. It’s remembered that over these six years, Sakyamuni only ate rice every single day. So when you eat porridge on the eighth day’s the 12th month each year people commemorate him.

Laba Zhou- Some kind of special Foods for Chinese New year:

About this day a unique hot rice porridge, called Laba Zhou, is eaten, containing glutinous rice, red beans, millet, Chinese sorghum, peas and another ingredients, for example dried dates, chestnut meat, walnut meat, almond, peanut, dried lotus seeds and etc. On the previous night, individuals will begin the preparation and stew the porridge at about midnight. It’s not going to let out a stylish smell until the next morning. The flavor differs from place to place, in the North, it’s a dessert with sugar added; in the South, salt and seasonal vegetables they fit in.

This tradition has its own roots in the Buddhist faith. It is stated when Sakyamuni left home and strived for virtue, he fainted on the way due to hunger and tiredness. A shepherdess passing by saved him and cooked for him some porridge with glutinous rice and nuts. Then Sakyamuni sat within bodhi tree in meditation and found Buddhism. So later the believers formed the practice of cooking Laba Zhou to commemorate it.

There’s another interesting story about Laba Zhou. In the past there is a man who led a wasteful life and eventually he ran from food one winter. His neighbor gave him the grain he dumped before and cooked the porridge. Afterwards eating Laba Zhou would be to teach children thrift in managing household.

Another custom would be to prepare Laba vinegar for Jiaozi on the New Year Eve. Individuals will skin some garlic and place them in the vinegar. It’ll have a distinctive flavor as time passes passing by.

Days before the New Year, families is busy giving its house an intensive cleaning, looking to sweep away all the ill fortune to create way for the in-coming best of luck. People also give their doors and windowpanes a brand new paint, usually in red colorization. They decorate the doors and windows with paper-cuts and couplets with the extremely popular theme of “happiness”, “wealth”, “longevity” and “satisfactory marriage with increased children.”

Kitchen God:

On the 24th day’s the last lunar month sacrifices should be offered to the Kitchen God, for he returns to heaven to provide a report to the Jade Emperor (that is the ruler of heaven in Chinese mythology) about the family’s activities over the past year. This very day is marked by acts of appeasement to the Kitchen god to ensure that he will provide a favorable report. Traditionally images of the Kitchen god are burned like a symbolic act of departure. From the 24th the Kitchen god is going to be absent from his shrine in the kitchen, and during this period it will be cleaned in preparation for his return on New Year’s Eve.

Chinese New Year Gate Gods:

During the eventually get to Chinese New Year Gate Gods are put on the external doors of homes. This is a tradition could be dated to the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD). The legend says two generals, Qin Qiong and Yuchi Gong, stood guard against ghosts outside the Emperor Taizong’s bedroom. In the eagerness to talk about the protection of those ‘Gate Gods’ the common people made their paintings and placed them on doors. The tradition continues ever since.

The Eve of the New Year:

The Eve of the New Year is extremely carefully observed. Supper is really a feast, with all of members uniting. Light is going to be kept on the whole night. At nighttime, fireworks will illuminate the whole sky and firecrackers make everywhere appear to be a battleground. People’s excitement reaches its climax.

Very early the next morning, children greet their parents and receive their lucky money in red packets. The symbolic giving of the money represents a want fortune in the coming year. Then, the family begins to say greetings from door-to-door, first for their relatives and then their neighbors. During and a few days following the New Year’s day, individuals are visiting one another, with a lot of exchange of gifts. The New Year atmosphere is delivered to an anti-climax fifteen days away when the Lantern Festival sets in. It’s an occasion of lantern shows and folk dance everywhere. One typical food is the Tang Yuan, a type of dumplings made from sweet rice rolled into balls and full of sweet fillings.

Lantern Festival marks:

The Lantern Festival marks the end of the New Year season and afterwards life becomes daily routines again. Yet, the spirit underlying is the same: a sincere wish of peace and happiness for the members of the family and friends.

La ba zhou, or eight-treasure congee, a Chinese rice gruel, was given to visitors in early stages today’s morning at the Yonghegong Lama Temple, Guangji Temple, and many other Buddhist and Taoist temples in Beijing.