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Families prepare meat for special dishes


02-04-2016 17:44 BJT

Full coverage: 2016 Spring Festival

Each day of the week leading up to Chinese New Year has its own custom. For example, the 23rd of the 12th lunar month is for making sugar melons, the 24th for cleaning the house. Today, on the 26th day—with three days left to New Year’s Eve —it is time to buy meat for some special dishes.

Families prepare meat for special dishes

Families prepare meat for special dishes

According to Chinese tradition, the 26th day of the 12th lunar month is the day to kill the pig or sheep. The practice originates in a time when ordinary families could only afford to eat meat during New Year celebrations.

Braised pork, with red sauce made from sugar and soybean sauce, is a popular New-Year dish. The pork symbolizes wealth, and red adds the meaning of prosperity. For Muslims, braised mutton is the alternative.

As the festive atmosphere builds, people are busy buying other goods, such as fruit and vegetables, dried fruit and nuts, and auspicious hanging objects and poetry couplets.

A sacrificial ceremony was held, and calligraphers wrote out auspicious couplets. Tourists also tried to compete with locals in beating ciba, a local food made by beating glutinous rice.

But the climax did not come until an ethnic Tujia villager climbed to the top of a “knife mountain”—a ladder over 10 meters tall with knife-like steps—to shower red envelopes, or ‘hongbao,’ on the people below.

This New Year custom has a history of more than 500 years. After seeing all the acts and stunts, tourists and locals sit down to enjoy the feast. After dinner, tourists were swept up in the rejoicing, including dancing with locals around a bonfire.

It was a taste of how the Tujia people have celebrated New Year over the centuries.

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