Chinese culture

Xiaonian: Kick-off Chinese New Year with sweets

Yay! It’s 小年 Xiaonian! Roughly translating as the Little New Year event, 小年 is THE event that kick-offs the Chinese New Year. That’s right, the Spring Festival celebrations officially start today, on the 23rd day of the 12th month of the lunar calendar, which happens to be today. The Chinese New Year preparations begin with 小年 xiǎo nián, one of the sweetest events of the season! Sweet why? What’s 小年 all about? Keep reading, and you’ll know.

Image source: CGTN

What is Xiaonian?

Xiaonian is often called the prologue of the Spring Festival because it kicks off preparations for the upcoming Chinese New Year. It’s also a special day for the Kitchen God, ZaoShen (Chinese: 灶君; pinyin: Zào Jun; literally “stove master).
That’s because today, on 小年 xiǎo nián, the Kitchen God is going to return to “Heaven”. (That’s if you’re in the North of China. For the South of China, that’ll happen tomorrow).

The Kitchen God, Zao Shen. Source: Project Gutenberg

There, he’ll make his report to the other gods that stayed in Heaven, and especially to the Jade Emperor – he’s considered the King of the Taoists deities (Chinese: 玉皇; pinyin: Yù Huáng. Also called 玉帝 Yù Dì).

With the Chinese New Year special course on Ninchanese, start preparing for the Spring Festival too! 

What is The Kitchen God reporting?

The Kitchen God has one specific mission: to report on what happened in each household over the past year. He’ll particularly weigh how good or bad the family was. That way, the Jade Emperor can decide accordingly to reward or punish each household. So if you were good, good fortunes await you in the coming new year of the Tiger, and if you were terrible… well, you won’t be so lucky.

The Sweetest event: Nian Gao cakes and more

Good thing, though: the Kitchen God can easily be bribed… or at least tempted because he’s very partial to sweets. Just rub something sweet on his lips, like a bit of sugar, honey, or the traditional 年糕 (nián gāo) cake. The goal? To make sure he sweet-talks the Jade Emperor! He should also be grateful because he’ll be getting a great homemade scrub at the same time.

Curious to know what a 年糕 is? Watch this!

In addition to sweets, the Kitchen God is often also offered food, in case he gets hungry on the way up. Usually, his heaven-ascending horse is also given water and grass to make the journey. So be considerate and treat them. You want them to put in a good word for you!

The other good news? You get to eat candy too on Xiaonian! Especially the chewy, sticky, sesame kind. Like this maybe. 

The second item of good news: As the Kitchen God is a family’s moral compass, once he’s gone, you’re free of any moral surveillance. Technically. So why not? Go party, drink, and enjoy yourself. Act quick, the kitchen God will be back soon.
Just make sure to stuff your face with candy too, because if your mouth is full of candy, you won’t be able to bad-mouth others! Think of it as the Kitchen God’s parting gift!

And that’s how 小年 is a lesson on the importance of sweets!

Clean your house for the Lunar New Year

The bot so good news? Once the Kitchen God is sent off (usually by burning a paper version of him), cleaning season is officially in full swing.

Spring Cleaning, Spring Festival style. Source: CGTN

The goal is to get your house squeaky clean and to turn Obsessive-Compulsive when it comes to dust, as there can’t be any left at all when the Chinese New Year swings around! This year, there’s a particular focus on making your house fully anti-virus too.

Otherwise, you risk starting the new lunar year on the wrong paw. This is soon, since, on February 1st, we’ll all be ringing in the Year of the Tiger! That’s a little over a week from now.

So, are you planning on bribing the Kitchen God and on cleaning your house to prepare for the New Year? Or are you planning on skipping all this and Just celebrating the fun stuff?? Let us know!

Speaking of fun stuff, here’s something cool for you: a Lunar New Year themed course!

A unique Chinese New Year world on Ninchanese!

Discover the Chinese New Year course. It’s a themed mini-world that’s only available during one special period of the year, and that’s during the Chinese Spring Festival!

36 Stages full of essential words and sentences to learn in Chinese, and meowsome dialogues to teach you all about the pawwsitively fun customs that go hand in hand with the Chinese New Year celebrations. Purrfect to learn all about the Spring Festival and the Year of the Tiger in Chinese. From what to do on New Year’s eve to the Lantern Festival, you’ll be learning a lot and will love doing that!

This special world is only here for the next two weeks until the Lunar New Year ends, so don’t miss out!

And one more thing…

If you want to continue learning Chinese with authentic and entertaining content, then you’ll love Ninchanese.

With Ninchanese, you get a complete method to learn Chinese which has you speaking, reading, writing, and more in Chinese. What’s more, whether you’re a beginner or an advanced learner, there’s content your level on Ninchanese and plenty more! From HSK-based courses to a Chinese Business course, you have your pick of Chinese to learn!

Start using Ninchanese on the web, with your computer or tablet, or, for Chinese learning in your pocket and on the go, download the Ninchanese app from the Google Play Store.

The Nincha Team

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