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It's LaBa 臘八 festival (the eighth day of December in Chinese lunar calendar). It's time to have our eight treasures porridge.
There are several legends about the origin of porridge eating on Laba: some claim it is of Buddhist origin; some say the porridge, made of red beans, has the power to exorcize evil from little kids; my grandmother told me the porridge is in memory of a poor couple.
The custom of porridge eating has been well-known throughout history, from the royal court to common people. The most “authentic” porridge is made in Northern China, especially Beiping (北平). Laba porridge is mostly made of rice and sticky rice, but can also include sugar, red dates, lotus seeds, walnuts, chestnuts, almonds, longans, hazelnuts, raisins, red beans, peanuts, water caltrops, roseleaf and other “treasures” (hence its other name, “eight treasure porridge”).
Almost every region in China has its own local recipe for Laba porridge. Eating hot porridge is great in cold winter, and the grain and nuts are considered healthy winter fare.
Here is a wonderful video on how to make it: