​Chinese keywords and Spring Festival countdown customs

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, January 14, 2023

The written word and tradition in China

Editor's note: Spring Festival, or the Chinese Lunar New Year Festival, is the most important festival in China. It usually falls in late January or early February, heralding the beginning of spring. This year, it falls on Jan. 22. 

Traditionally, Chinese people begin preparing for the Spring Festival as early as the 8th day of the 12th lunar month, the final month of the Chinese lunar calendar. However, the most traditional countdown customs occur between the 23rd and 30th days of the 12th lunar month. 

Several Chinese characters, or keywords, reflect the essence of the countdown traditions. 

Day 23 of the 12th lunar month (the Little New Year) - 8 days until the Spring Festival 

The Chinese character 甜 ("tian"), meaning sweet, is the keyword for the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month. This year, it falls on Jan. 14. 

This day is known as the Little New Year (Xiaonian), or the Festival of the Kitchen God. It is usually regarded as the prologue to the Spring Festival, the traditional Chinese New Year. 

On this day, families will make offerings to the Kitchen God. It is said that the Kitchen God is the god of each family's household and that he returns to heaven on this day to submit his annual report to the Jade Emperor (the supreme deity of Taoism). Therefore, folk customs dictate that families must offer sticky sweets to the Kitchen God in order to sweeten his tongue or seal his lips so that he can only report good things. In addition, this day marks the beginning of busy preparations for the Spring Festival and the formal initiation of the holiday festivities.

Read more about Spring Festival countdown customs:

Chinese keywords and Laba Festival

Day 24 of the 12th lunar month - 7 days until the Spring Festival 

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