Kitchen God Day-Chinese Little New Year
Little New Year falls around one week before the Spring Festival, and is also referred to as Kitchen God Day. In 2015, the Kitchen God Day is on February 11 in the northern regions of China and February 12 in the southern regions.
Kitchen God is also named Stove God, a god from ancient Chinese legends. It is said that on December 23rd of the lunar calendar, the Kitchen God will report the affairs of the past year of each family to the Jade Emperor, the emperor of gods in heaven. The Jade Emperor will then decide whether to reward or to punish this family according to the Kitchen God's report. However, the Kitchen God was lazy and dishonest when he was human, so people worry about him saying bad things to the Jade Emperor. On this account, people sacrifice food and drink to the Kitchen God, hoping that he reports good things about their family and blesses them to live safe and happy in the coming year.
Tang Gua and Guandong Tang
One of the most important parts of Kitchen God Day is candy. The special candy used on this day is "Tang Gua", which literally means "candy melon". It is a small melon-shaped candy made with malt sugar. In addition, there is another kind of candy named "Guandong Tang" that people also sacrifice to the Kitchen God. Guandong Tang literally means "candy of Northeast China". It normally comes about 10cm long and 3cm wide with stripes and is also mainly made from malt sugar. Traditionally, the candies are used to stick in the Kitchen God's mouth in order to prevent him from reporting bad things to the Jade Emperor.
On Kitchen God Day, people sacrifice water, beans, and grass to the Kitchen God for feeding his horse that carries him to heaven, as well as Tang Gua. Moreover, people hang a portrait of the Kitchen God above the stove and attach to either sides some thoughts such as "Say good things to Heaven and bless people safe and sound when coming back".
In traditional Chinese culture, the Kitchen God returns from Heaven on Chinese New Year's Eve, so people keep the sacrifices from the Kitchen God Day until the day he returns. During these days, people start to get ready for Chinese New Year by cleaning the house, making paper-cuts to decorate the windows, preparing Chinese New Year food and hanging lanterns.