Kitchen God Worshipping Day is a traditional Chinese festival of the Han nationality. It is called “Xiaonian” among the populace. Kitchen God Worshipping Day is not narrowly defined as one festival. Instead, it refers to different festivals according to various folk customs in different parts of China. In most parts of North China, Kitchen God Worshipping Day falls on the twenty-third or twenty-fourth day of the twelfth lunar month. However, Kitchen God Worshipping Day falls on the fifth day of the first month of the lunar year in Zhejiang, Shanghai and Jiangsu areas. In many parts of China, Kitchen God Worshipping Festival also refers to the Lantern Festival (the 15th of the first lunar month). And in some areas, Kitchen God Worshipping Festival refers to the winter solstice. Anyhow, Kitchen God Worshipping Dayl is a beginning of a new year and means the beginning of preparing goods for spring festival. People in every part of China spend Kitchen God Worshipping Day with beautiful wishes, ringing a New Year in as well as an Old Year out and bringing a new and dynamic atmosphere.
As the spring Festival is drawing near after Kitchen God Worshipping Day, Chinese people begin to prepare for the Spring Festival. They usually clean their houses thoroughly in order to clean away the dirt and bad luck of the past year and welcome a new year. People also paint walls, rinse windows, wash bedding sheets and the like.
Kitchen God Worshipping Day is a traditional folk festival when people worship Kitchen God. As Chinese people mainly live on rice and cooked foods are not easily preserved, the food must be cooked at any time when people feel like a meal. As a result, every family in China owns a cooking stove. According to the folk legend, the Jade Emperor assigns a Kitchen God to every family to supervise what the family members do in the whole year. Then the Kitchen God will go to report the good and evil of the family members in the past year to the Jade Emperor on the twenty-third or twenty-fourth day of the twelfth lunar month. And then the Jade Emperor will decide whether to give rewards or punishments to the family. In order to get rewards and avoid punishments, when people are worshipping the Kitchen God in Kitchen God Worshipping Festival, they usually set their gifts before the portrait of the Kitchen God and cover the mouth of the Kitchen God with a special kind of sugar which is sold during Kitchen God Worshipping Festival, wishing the Kitchen God to put in good words for the family. In the following year, the Kitchen God will come back to the family to go on supervising the family.
Customs in different parts of China
In the south of China, Kitchen God Worshipping Day falls on the fifth day of the first month of the lunar year, during which people worship the God of Wealth for a fortune. According to the folklore, the God of Wealth is actually the God of five ways, which means that people have five ways to get a fortune outside their houses. In Shanghai, the natives get the sacrifices ready on the fourth day of the first month of the lunar year and sacrifice sheep and carps, which means an auspicious year and a bountiful harvest in the following year. So, in order to build up family fortunes, people open the gate and windows and let off firecrackers on the fifth day of the first month of the lunar year, welcoming the God of Wealth as well as good luck.