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Jiangxi Culture
Tradition of the Preliminary Eve

Every 23rd or 24th day of the 12th lunar month is called Preliminary Eve, or xiaonian. It's the start of the whole Spring Festival Celebration. On this day people offer sacrifices to the kitchen God, however, as time passing by, most families make delicious food for their family members now.

On this day, pictures of the Kitchen God are burned as a symbol of his departure, and usually some paper money is also burned for his traveling expenses. Many people will hang the kitchen God's picture above the stove, wishing he watch over and protect the whole family.

According to the legend, the Kitchen God goes to the Heaven to report for Jade Emperor the good and evils of the family on this day, who will give his rewards or punishments. So before sending off the Kitchen God, people always prepare candy, water, beans and Stover, the last three are prepared for his ride. People always apply sugar on Kitchen God's lips so that he won¡¯t speak ill of the family to the Jade Emperor. As the folk custom says, ¡°men do not worship the Moon while women do not offer sacrifices to the Kitchen God¡±, so only man can take part in the sacrifices to the Kitchen God.

Since the 24th the Kitchen God will come out from his shrine, and during this time the kitchen will be cleaned in preparation for his coming back on New Year¡¯s Eve. This tradition is not popular in urbans but may still be seen in some rural areas.

On New Year's Eve, the Kitchen God and other gods will come down to Earth to spend their New Year's Day. So the New Year's Eve is a festival to welcome the Kitchen God and other gods. After burning the paper sedan chairs and paper horse, toasting three cups of liquor, people can send off the Kitchen God. Then it is the time for every family to offer their memorial sacrifices to their ancestors.

Editor trainee: Liu Yuan (Anna)