A parent feeds her child at "lian qiao banquet". [Photo by Wang Jianhua/Xinhua]
As the saying goes, Spring Festival lasts until the Lantern Festival (January 15 on the lunar calendar). Though the statutory Spring Festival holiday is only one week, many Chinese regard Lantern Festival as the last day of the Spring Festival. The Lantern Festival in Beijing has always been a festive occasion when various lantern fairs and temple fairs attract many citizens. Lantern Festival is coming again, where are you going to celebrate the festival? Why not come to Huairou to enjoy a banquet that has been included in the list of China’s intangible cultural heritage?
A banquet called “lian qiao”, a national intangible cultural heritage, will be prepared in over 100 large woks in Yangshudixia village Liulimiao township, Huairou district from February 10 to 12 (January 14 to 16 on the lunar calendar) this year.
As for the origin of “lian qiao banquet”, there is a moving tale. It is said that the ancestors of the villagers migrated to Yangshudixia to flee from famine. They reclaimed the wasteland to grow grain there and tried hard to look for seeds. Unfortunately, the man who carried the hardly found seeds dropped them into rock cracks all of a sudden. As luck would have it, a flock of birds came and picked up the seeds from the cracks, but they didn’t eat even one of the seeds and returned them to the man. It happened on the 16th day of the first lunar month, and thus villagers made the day an occasion to express appreciation for birds and pray for blessings and good harvests. Since then, the maidens in the village would collect (“lian” in Chinese) grains and vegetables from household to household before every 16th day of the first lunar month which are cooked by women to serve all the villagers on the day. People used to place needle, thread and coppers in the food, and anyone who got them were believed to be blessed with cleverness (“qiao” in Chinese) and good luck. In addition, “qiao” is also an alternative name for birds used by local people. Before people eat “lian qiao banquet”, they would share it with birds and say some auspicious words. This folk tradition has been carried on by the villagers for about 200 years.
This year’s “lian qiao banquet” will be held in Yangshudixia village for three days when visitors to the village can enjoy the banquet at noon. Meanwhile, a drama on “lian qiao banquet”, cross talk, acrobatics, lion dance, beating of gongs and drums, magic show and imitation show of stars will be staged, and visitors can also participate in ice and snow activities, horse riding, archery and riddle solving. A grand sacrifice ritual of “lian qiao banquet” will be held on January 16 on the lunar calendar, and visitors can feel the cultural connotations of folk tradition for themselves.
Get off Beijing-Chengde Expressway at Exit 14 in Huairou district and drive along Beijing-Jiagedaqi National Road (to Fengning) and follow the signpost at the People’s Government of Liulimiao Township to reach Yangshudixia. Or take bus H12 in the downtown of Huairou and get off at Yangshudixia stop.
You may buy tickets from the ticket office, Beijing Basegu Travel Agency or basegu.com as well as other tourism websites.