The eighth day of the Chinese lunar year is said to be the birthday of the crops. Agriculture was and still is China’s most important source of income, and is considered the foundation of the country’s prosperity. Thus in ancient China, you can imagine how crucial it was to worship the grains during the Chinese New Year. If today is sunny and warm, it foretells a year of prosperity. If the day is gloomy and cold, it signals a year filled with crop failures and famine. Although most of the traditions and customs to worship the grains have been lost, people see this date as a reminder of how important agriculture is, and as an opportunity to return to nature, and to educate their children on agricultural knowledge.
There are three steps you can follow to honor this day of nature. First, get ready for a field trip! In China nowadays, as more and more people live in the city, parents use today as a chance to take out their kids to the countryside, where they witness the growing of the winter crops. It helps them to establish a sense of respect for the farmers and understand the importance of cherishing food.
[caption id="attachment_1953" align="aligncenter" width="500"] porridge. photo courtesy of avlxyz from flickr via creative commons[/caption]
After the field trip, parents teach the children how to make noodles, steamed buns, or porridge – any staples that come from the crops. It is not only fun, but also a more scrumptious way to make the kids understand that food is precious, and they should not waste it! The day usually ends with a shopping trip for some ornamental crops to cultivate at home, which can be a year-round science project.
To honor this day of nature, it is also a tradition in some parts of China to release some domestic animals such as birds and fish. It not only shows people’s respect to the nature, but a genuine wish to live in harmony with other creatures. Will you join us in honoring the world we live in today?