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Laba Festival celebrated with free porridge

2010-01-25 12:59 BJT


Friday is China's traditional Laba Festival, which is celebrated each year on the eighth day of the last lunar month. "La" in Chinese means the 12th lunar month and "ba" means eight. The most important tradition associated with the festival is porridge. Ma Shuo checked out how the old tradition is observed by the citizens of Beijing.

At early morning on Friday inside a huge restaurant in downtown Beijing, people were waiting in line to get a free bowl of porridge as part of their Laba festival celebrations.

In a few hours, the rice, beans and nuts would be turned into gallons of porridge to be distributed for free to all comers.

While enjoying their holiday treats, those in line say it's the tradition that counts, not the free food.

One Beijing resident said, "I've already prepared all the ingredients for my own laba porridge at home. But I would like to come here to enjoy the food with others, and share the spirits of wishing a bountiful harvest and good luck in the coming year."

The annual gift of porridge has become an important event for Quanjude, Beijing's most famous roast duck restaurant. This year, they assembled more than one hundred kilograms of porridge ingredients that will produce nearly 15-hundred bowls of porridge.

Sun Wanyi, Folk culture expert, said, "In old days, porridge was given to poor people for free on Laba festival. But nowadays, since everyone can afford a simple bowl of porridge, the event has become more like a traditional gesture than an act of charity."