Xiao Nian (Kitchen God reports to the Jade Emperor)

The 23rd day of the 12th month in a year on the lunar calendar is called "off year", (Xiaonian in Chinese). It is the day on which the folk people offer sacrifices to Kitchen God.

It is said that on the 23rd day of the 12th month every lunar year, Kitchen God would go to the Heaven to report the good and evils of the family to the Jade Emperor (The Supreme Deity of Taoism) for the Jade Emperor to give his rewards and punishments. Giving Kitchen God a send-off, people offer sweets, pure water, soybeans and grass fodder and put them on the desk before the Kitchen God Idol down to the earth. It is said the water and fodder is prepared for the god's horse while going up to the celestial palace. When offering sacrifices to the god, people would melt Guangdong sugar by fine and apply it on the god's mouth so that he can't speak ill of the people in front of the Jade Emperor. According to the folk custom, "men do not worship the Moon while women do not offer sacrifices to Kitchen god." So sacrifices to Kitchen god is confined to men.

Besides, on New Year's Eve (the last evening of the lunar year), Kitchen god and various other gods will come down to the earth to spend the New Year's Day in the human world. So on New Year's Eve there is a ceremony to usher in Kitchen God and other god. After burning the paper sedan-chairs and paper horses and sprinkling three cups of liquor, people give the gods a send-off. Then it is the turn for every family to offer their memorial sacrifices to their ancestors.

Spring Cleaning

The twelfth month is the last month of the year. Every family is busy preparing for the Spring Festival. So every household will give a general cleaning to their houses, to bid farewell to the old year and to usher in the new year. In Beijing people usually take the 24th day of the 12th month as the "Spring Cleaning Day".

Spring cleaning is generally done by house-wives. They would first wrap their heads with scarves, cover the beds and furniture with sheets of cloth and sweep the walls and ceilings up and down with a broom. After cleaning the house they wash desks and chairs and mop the floor. After spring cleaning every household, every store looks anew Red Spring Festival couples are pasted on the door panels, fresh and bright, symbolizing happiness and prosperity. Animated door gods, scrolls of happiness, beautiful window flowers, colored New Year paintings, flower-decorated red lanterns and plenty of sacrifice gods, all gives a happy and prosperous atmosphere of the Festival.