New Year (Chinese: Xiaonian), which falls about a week before the lunar New Year, is also known as the Festival of the Kitchen God, the deity who oversees the moral character of each household. In one of the most distinctive traditions of Spring Festival, a paper image of the Kitchen God is burned on Little New Year, dispatching the god's spirit to Heaven to report on the family's conduct over the past year. The Kitchen God is then welcomed back by pasting a new paper image of him beside the stove. From this vantage point, the Kitchen God will oversee and protect the household for another year. The close association of the Kitchen God with the Lunar New Year has resulted in Kitchen God Festival being called Little New Year. Although very few families still make offerings to the Kitchen God on this day, many traditional holiday activities are still very popular. Many China travel deals have added Chinese culture discovery activity in their itinerary. If your travel falls onto spring festival, you could see how Chinese celebrate Chinese little new year.
Studies of popular Chinese religion indicate that the Kitchen God did not appear until after the invention of the brick stove. The cooking stove was a fairly late development in the history of human civilization. Ancient writings indicate that the Fire God, the earliest form of the Kitchen God, was worshipped long before the stove was invented. Zhu Rong, China's ancient Fire God was a popular folk deity and had many temples built in his honor. Stone lined fire pits, an early form of the brick stove, are still commonly used among China's ethnic minorities. People in these regions make offerings to the Fire Pit God. People living in different regions of China have different ways for celebrating little new Year, the ones discovered on your Tibet tours are different from the ones along your Xian travel.
The Kitchen God appeared soon 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. Legend has it that during the Later Han Dynasty, a poor farmer named Yin Zifang was making breakfast one day shortly before the Lunar New Year, when the Kitchen God appeared to him. Although all Yin Zifang had was one yellow sheep, he sacrificed it to the Kitchen God. Yin Zifang soon became rich. To show his gratitude, Yin Zifang started sacrificing a yellow goat to the Kitchen God every winter on the day of the divine visitation, rather than during the summer as had been customary. This is the origin of the Kitchen God Festival, or Little New Year.
To explore the beauty of China, many people may think of Yangtze River cruises, while to explore Chinese culture is another must-have for your China travel. Just start your Chinese culture exploration from knowing little Chinese New Year.
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