Traditional Holidays on Ancient Chinese Calendar IV

Certain foods play an influential role in the celebration of holidays and other special days. For example, garlic is just one of the edibles that are utilized during the Chinese Laba Festival held during the twelfth lunar month. In this article, you will learn more about holidays that appear on the ancient Chinese calendar.

Spirit Festival

On the 15th day of the tenth lunar month, another Spirit Festival takes place (also known as the Water Lantern Festival) involves the setting of flower-shaped lanterns afloat on a stream or river at sundown. People also give offerings to the deceased so that wandering spirits and ghosts may return at night to visit.

Winter Solstice Festival

Also known as the Mid-Winter Festival or Dongzhi Festival, the Chinese celebrate the Winter Solstice Festival on the 21st or 22nd of December. Traditionally, the festival is a time of the year where families gather as a reunion. Balls of glutinous rice are eaten in celebration of the day. Ancestor worship is an important part of the festival with feast days similar to a ‘Chinese Thanksgiving.’

The origin of the festival has a connection to the yin and yang philosophy centered on balance and harmony within the cosmos. Following the celebration, the days are longer with more hours of daylight to enjoy. It is a belief that the longer days contribute to an increase of flowing positive energy.

In Taiwan, it is believed that this is the best time of the year to prepare and take tonic foods to boost health for the wintertime. Some foods include mutton hot pot and ginger duck hot pot, which is believed to strengthen the immune system against colds.

Laba Festival

On the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month, the Chinese celebrate the Laba Festival (also known as the Congee Festival). Before the Qin Dynasty, the holiday was centered on the new harvest. However, following the spread of Buddhism in China during the 1st century AD, the festival shifted meanings. The people used the day to commemorate the enlightenment of Buddha at the age of 35. The Qing Dynasty started ceremonies that took place in the Yonghe Temple in Beijing.

Traditions associated with the festival include the consumption of Laba Congee , which is still held in Northeast and Northwest China. The congee for the imperial court consisted of cream, lamb, dried red dates, chestnuts, peanuts, walnuts, raisins, melon seeds, mixed grains, and a few other ingredients. Other congees were made using mixed rice, beans, and various types of nuts and dates. Colorful sweets or dried fruits were also used to decorate the food. People also soak Laba garlic in vinegar that are used in conjunction with Chinese dumplings for celebrating the Chinese New Year.