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Laba, countdown to China's Spring Festival with a taste of congee


Laba is the eighth ("ba" in pinyin) day of the last month ("la-yue" in pinyin) in the lunar Chinese calendar. The day is observed as it heralds the approaching of the Spring Festival, or the lunar New Year. This year's Laba falls on January 13.

Laba was originally an occasion for people to give sacrifices to ancestors, to pray to the heaven and earth for harvest and good luck. As time lapses, many old rituals have faded away, but the old custom of having Laba Congee remains today.

Laba Congee usually contains rice, corns, beans and nuts, and sometimes with meat or fish. Crops are the most important ingredients as Chinese people traditionally value crop planting, and the seasonal congee is one way to celebrate their harvest.

The festival is also believed to have a close relation with Buddhism. It is said that the day is marked to commemorate Sakyamuni, the founder of the religion.

It is also on this day that people would begin their special purchases for the Spring Festival, from various kinds of food to room decorations.

Apart from having congee, Chinese people have developed more customs to celebrate the day.


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