Thursday is the 23rd of the twelfth lunar month on the Chinese calendar. It’s known as the Chinese Little New Year in the northern China. The people in southern China celebrate the Little New Year on the 24th of the twelfth lunar month. After the Little New Year day, the Chinese people will officially start to prepare for the celebration of the Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival.

There are two main activities on this day. First, people sweep the dust and do a thorough cleaning of their houses. It is meant to sweep out all the bad luck and welcome new wishes and good luck. The other activity is to offer sacrifices and pray to the Kitchen God for blessings.

The typical Chinese Kitchen God picture

The typical Chinese Kitchen God picture

The house cleaning custom is still preserved by almost all Chinese people. But the Kitchen God tradition is mostly practiced only in rural areas, which is still where the majority of Chinese live.

The Kitchen God is supposed to watch the household, overlook the members of the family and their behavior and report all he observed in the whole year once a year to the Jade Emperor in the Heaven. The Jade Emperor will then decide how much grain and luck the family will get for the new year for the Kitchen God to take back to the family.  Traditionally, every Chinese household would post a paper figure of the Kitchen God on the wall in the kitchen. The picture of the Kitchen God usually shows the figures of the Kitchen God and his wife sitting side by side. Red couplets with Chinese calligraphy will be pasted on the two sides of the picture of Kitchen God. The couplets usually say “Speak only the good in the Heaven, Brings back only good luck to the Earth”. It’s believed it’s on the 23rd of the twelfth month that the Kitchen God goes to the Jade Emperor. Each family bribes the Kitchen God with sacrifices to sweeten his mouth so he would say only good words about the family and bring back sufficient food and only good luck for the new year. Then, the picture of the Kitchen God is burnt to send the Kitchen God on his trip to do the report. And, on the New Year’s Eve, a new picture of the Kitchen God is posted meaning that he’s returned to the family from the report.

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