Kitchen GodSpring Festival has a series of activities, or rather, must-does. They are acknowledged as Spring Festival Custom collectively, which is handed down from generation to generation and hence is an important part of the very traditional China. However, in different regions, there exits minor differences, therefore major conventions are listed below in time sequence for reference only.

Kitchen God Worshipping

Kitchen God Worshipping is also known as the Small New Year (小年) in Beijing. The offerings include several bowls of Tangguo, a bowl of water, and a bowl of grass. Tangguo is a sort of candy made from glutinous millet and wheat germ. It is very sticky. When the Kitchen God eats the candy, he will have his mouth stuck down so that the god cannot report the bad deeds to Emperor Jade, who has traditionally been regarded as the king of the gods by Chinese Taoists. The water and grass are offered to the Kitchen God’s horse. In old Beijing, only men were allowed to worship Kitchen God. Now with the improvement of sexual equality, women can do the worshipping, too.

Kitchen God Worshipping generally takes place on Lunar December 23rd or 24th. It is an influential and popular traditional activity of China, which indicates the beginning of Spring Festival. Kitchen God refers to the god residing in the kitchen. Chinese believe each family has a Kitchen God who protects and supervises the family. There is often a small holy shrine for the god in each kitchen. Those who don’t have a shrine in their Kitchen Godkitchens often stick a portrait of the god on the kitchen wall. Sometimes, you may come across a family who has a portrait of both Kitchen God and Kitchen Goddess, the wife of Kitchen God

Why do the Chinese worship Kitchen God and offer sacrifice to him when the Chinese New Year draws near? It is because they believe at the end of each year the god will ascend to the heaven to report to Jade Emperor, the king of all Chinese gods, what the family has done during the year, both good deeds and bad deeds. Jade Emperor will judge by the report whether the family should be punished or awarded. Therefore, what the Kitchen God reports to the Jade Emperor is directly connected with the family’s future fate. They offer sacrifice to please the god hoping that the god can put in a good word for them. The couplet beside the portrait often reveals the hope. It reads: “Report good deeds in heaven, protect the family on earth.”

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