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Kitchen God Day

The 23rd day of the 12th month in a year on the lunar calendar is called "off year". It is the day on which people offer sacrifices to Kitchen God, who takes charge of the fortune of families.

People always have a thorough cleaning of their houses before "off year". Every family will do the cleaning carefully and completely to make the house bright and clean. The housewives will cover the beds and furniture and hood, then brush the walls, clean the tables and floors. They want to bid farewell to the old year and to usher in the new year.

After the house was cleaned it was time to bid farewell to the Kitchen God, or Zaowang. In traditional China, the Kitchen God was regarded as the guardian of the family hearth. He was identified as the inventor of fire, which was necessary for cooking and was also the censor of household morals. By tradition, the Kitchen God went to the Heaven to report the good and evils of the family to the Jade Emperor for whom to give rewards or punishments. At this time, the family did everything possible to obtain a favorable report from the Kitchen God. On the evening of the 23rd, the family would give the 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. 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.

Besides, on New Year's Eve, 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 of welcoming the kitchen god and other god. So on that day, 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.

Studies of popular Chinese religion indicate that the Kitchen God did not appear until after the invention of the brick stove. The Kitchen God was originally believed to reside in the stove, and only later took on human form.

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