Lianqiao Meal lives on in Beijing

Updated: 2014-03-04 09:36

It is the 16th day of the first lunar month of 2014, and people in Huairou in north Beijing, are celebrating their "Lianqiao" festival.

During the Qing dynasty, two families, Huo and Jin, fled a famine to Huairou. Local birds, known as Titmice, helped people with the seasonal plenty and provided them the food they need to survive. Since that time, local birds are regarded as their totem.

Every year, girls collect food and vegetables from each family in the village before the 16th day of the first lunar month. Married women then cook the food and the whole village eats together on that day.

Before the meal, feeding birds is very important. Local people show their gratitude to the birds for saving their ancestors’ lives and pray for next year's harvest. After the meal, people walk on ice, which symbolic of curing all disease. In Chinese, the words ice and disease share the same pronunciation .

In 2008, "Lianqiao" festival was listed as a part of China's Intangible Cultural Heritage.

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