Feb. 1 is Xiaonian Festival in China, which marks the start of the countdown to Spring Festival. It falls on the 23rd or 24th day of the 12th month of the Chinese traditional lunar calendar, and sets off the beginning of festivities.
This is the day, according to legend, that the Kitchen God gives an annual report to the Jade Emperor, the supreme ruler of Heaven, about how mortals have behaved over the past year. It’s based on that report that the Emperor decides his rewards and punishments.
Thus, on this day, families prepare their best and finest dishes to offer to the Kitchen God (and also some to feast on) before he heads to the heavenly meeting. The better the family cooks, it’s said, the more prosperous and auspicious they will be during the coming year.
Some other customs around celebrating the Xiaonian Festival:
Making Zaotang-Candy for the Kitchen God
Besides meals, families also offer candies to the Kitchen God to bribe him into saying good things about them to the Jade Emperor.
Writing and pasting couplets around doors
Families start decorating their homes with red paper cuts and red couplets, symbolizing luck, good wishes and happiness.
From this day to the eve of the Spring Festival, families will thoroughly clean their home as they believe it sweeps away bad luck and gets them ready for the arrival of good luck.
In addition, many people use the time to go out shopping, to buy those much needed supplies and groceries for the biggest holiday of the year.