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The Prelude of the Spring Festival

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Written by: Jerry GAO
Photo by:From the Internet
Edited by:James Campion, WANG Mengyu |  Date:2018/02/2256 Hits

As the most celebrated festival in China, the Spring Festival has its own prelude. This prelude actually refers to a day called “xiao nian” (小年) in Chinese, which means Minor Chinese New Year.

 

The date of Minor Chinese New Year varies in different regions. The most common date is the 23rd or 24th of the twelfth lunar month – a week before the Spring Festival. This special day isn’t as well known, but it’s important and has a long history. Legend has it that in every home there is a Kitchen God. Every year on the 23rd of the twelfth lunar month he reports to the Jade Emperor (the supreme Deity in Chinese folk myths and legends) what this family has done, so that they can be rewarded or punished. Therefore on this day, people worship the Kitchen God to make him put in a good word for them before the Jade Emperor. For this reason, “xiao nian” is also called the Kitchen God’s Day. Offerings are made to worship the Kitchen God, including candies, fruits, beans and wines. In ancient times, Minor Chinese New Year was celebrated both by royalties and civilians in many dynasties. This custom has remained until today.

 

People worshiping the Kitchen God

 

When this day comes, all the Chinese know that it’s time to be prepared for the New Year. The first step is clean-up. Every corner of the house needs to be clear and tidy to welcome the Spring Festival. Besides, people make all kinds of food. For example, in Guangdong Province, pastries and fried food like “you jiao (油角)” and “jian dui (煎堆)” are common, while in Northern China, people eat dumplings. Decorations are needed for the festive atmosphere, so paper is cut into beautiful shapes to decorate windows and walls. Some think that after this day all the gods will be in heaven, so there is no taboo and people get to choose whenever they want to get married without worrying, which is the reason why a lot of weddings are held in this period of time. People also set off firecrackers to celebrate.

 

Abundant food on Minor Chinese New Year

 

People have celebrated this special day for a long time to pray for safety and good luck in the coming year. However, nowadays with everyone busy with all kinds of things, it’s more like a day when the family all gather together to welcome and prepare for the coming Spring Festival. It’s also from this day on that the atmosphere of the New Year becomes thicker.