Festivals and diet in Linhai

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2019-02-20

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The ancient festivals and customs of the Linhai culture reflect the history of Linhai in Taizhou, Zhejiang province, something like living fossils.

There is an old saying, ask about the customs first when in another town. Most of the customs in Linhai, especially the festival customs, are related to diet, embodying the old maxim of food is a matter of heaven for the people, but bread is the staff of life.

The celebrations of Spring Festival or the Chinese New Year, the nation’s most important festival, last from the first to the eighth of the first month of the lunar year. In Linhai, firecrackers are set off before dawn on the first day of the first lunar month. In the early morning, heaven, earth and ancestors are worshiped with candles, joss sticks and offerings. Long travels are not customary that day as visits and good wishes are exchanged between neighbors and relatives. Guests are usually entertained with sugar tea with red dates, fruits, pastries and desserts. Baisuiguo (New Year snacks) include fried rice candies, sesame candies, peanut candies, water chestnuts, red oranges, fried peanuts and fried beans, which are offered to visiting children and wrapped in cloth for them to take home. The neighbors will give each other a copper plate of baisuiguo to show goodwill. The usual breakfast is porridge of glutinous rice and red dates, lunch is tangyuan (rice dumplings) and supper often consists of steamed buns and niangao (rice cakes). Rice is said to be a symbol of poverty leading to bad luck for the whole year and should be avoided on the lunch table. There are quite a few taboos on the Chinese New Year's day, such as sweeping the floor, using knives, needles or thread, laboring, and fetching water at the well, trading, cursing and fighting. Even foes should get along in peace on that day. The whole family usually visits Donghu Lake, climbs Mount Jinzi or has fun on the streets. On the eighth day, it is common for women to travel to the eight major local temples to pray for a peaceful life with good luck and no disasters.

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