Traditional Lianqiao Festival marked in N Beijing village

11:45, February 20, 2011      

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Local residents gather to celebrate the traditional Lianqiao Festival in Yangshudixia Village of Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 18, 2011. (Xinhua/Bo Xiangdong)


While Spring Festival celebrations faded after the 15th day of the first lunar month, heated festive atmospherecontinued as people were preparing for the Lianqiao Festival at Yangshudixia village in north Beijing's Huairou District, where more than 100 woks were burbling outdoors on Friday for the a 180-year-old fete centered on soup, porridge and sparrows that is little-known elsewhere.

The annual celebration was born of a legend in which the Jin and Huo families - most residents of Yangshudixia's 150 households still carry these surnames - fled Shandong province to settle in the area but had no seeds to sow.

They traveled to a distant village to borrow some millet but while they rested on a rocky outcropping, a blustering wind swept the seed into a stone crevice.

However, the men couldn't squeeze their fingers into the narrow cleft to scoop out the millet. They almost gave up in despair when a flock of mystical sparrows flitted in and dug the seeds out for them.

The thankful men kneeled down to their avian saviors and vowed to share their harvests with them every spring, when food is scarce for the birds.

Every year since, young girls have gone door-to-door collecting Spring Festival leftovers on the day after the Lantern Festival.

After feeding the birds, the families cast the remaining food into massive cauldrons bubbling above wood-fires and serve the concoctions to the townsfolk, and now numerous visitors from around the country.


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http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90783/91324/7293379.pdf