What Is Little New Year and Why Do the Chinese Celebrate It?

Little New Year

China Country Manager Bao Li Wang talks about the most important holiday for the Chinese,  the Spring Festival, and the Little New Year celebration on January 20. 

The Lunar New Year, known as the Spring Festival in China, is the most important holiday for the Chinese. The celebration for the Spring Festival usually lasts for 15 days. This year, Spring Festival will start on January 28 and end with the Lantern Festival on February 11.

Preparation starts early: lots of cleaning and shopping. Today, January 20, the 23rd of the 12th lunar month, is the Chinese Little New Year for 2017 in northern China. In Southern China, the Little New Year is celebrated on January 21. It’s a day reserved for people to do a thorough cleaning, including every corner of their houses. It is meant to sweep out all the bad luck and welcome the new year with a new look.

Another important activity on the day is to pray to the Kitchen God for blessings for the New Year and send him onto his annual journey to heaven. Traditionally, each household has a shrine for the Kitchen God in which a paper figure of him is posted. The Kitchen God watches the household, overlooks the members of the family and their behavior, then reports all he observed in the whole year to the Jade Emperor in the Heaven at the end of the year. The Jade Emperor then decides how much grain and luck the family gets for the new year for the Kitchen God to take back to the family.

It’s on the Little New Year day that the Kitchen God goes to the Jade Emperor.  To bribe the Kitchen God so he would say only good words about the family to the Jade Emperor, each family offers him sacrifices so he would bring back sufficient food and only good luck for the new year.  After sacrifices are offered, the picture of the Kitchen God is burnt and he is believed to be gone with the smoke on his trip to do the report. On the Spring Festival’s Eve, a new picture of the Kitchen God is posted, which means that he has returned to the family after giving his report.

Little New Year

Kitchen God paper figure on a Chinese kitchen. (Credit: Caitriana Nicholson)

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