Golden Chinese characters on red Nations Online Logo
One World
Nations Online

All Countries in the World
Home Earth Continents  Asia  Thailand / China  Chinese New Year Photos  Chinese Customs and Traditions Glossary  Kitchen God/ Zao Shen/ Zao Jun

___ Kitchen God

Kitchen God, named Zao Jun (Chinese: 灶君; pinyin: Zào Jūn; literally "stove master") or Zao Shen (Chinese: 灶神; pinyin: Zào Shén; literally "stove god").

Kitchen God

The Kitchen God is a popular deity most Chinese would worship every year. Many Chinese homes have a paper image or picture of the deity hung throughout the year near the family's stove.

The Kitchen God not only watches over the domestic affairs of a family, but he is also a moral force in the lives of all family members.

Households will offer a sacrifice called ‘nian gao’ to the Kitchen God on the so called ‘off year’ (the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month), a week before the Chinese New Year. On that day, the Kitchen God ascends to Heaven to present his yearly report about each family member’s behaviour to the Jade Emperor. According to the report, the Jade Emperor rewards or punishes each household accordingly.
Nian gao’ is a lotus root-like sticky cake made of sugar and honey, a typical Chinese traditional candy. By smearing sticky sugar and honey onto the Kitchen God’s mouth, family members try to ‘”close his lips”, sealing them and "bribe" Zao Shen into presenting a "sweetened" version of the report to the Jade Emperor, The Emperor of Heaven.

Zao Shen's ascent to heaven is accomplished by burning his image: The smoke rising to the heavens symbolically represents his journey to the Emperor of Heaven, while fire crackers are lit to speed up Zao Shen’s travel.
Some families offer spirit money during the deity's burning and others might offer a papier-mâché sedan chair and a papier-mâché horse for the journey, even pour liquor over the deity’s image to produce a bright flame, which is supposed to speed up the journey to Heaven as well.
A new picture of him is then placed above the stove for the coming year.
If the household has a statue or a nameplate of Zao Shen it will be taken down and cleaned.

In the afternoon of the fourth day after Zao Shen’s ascend to Heaven, people prepare offerings of food to welcome the return of the Kitchen God and his retinue from the trip to the Jade Emperor's court. The Kitchen God's return signifies the end of freedom from spiritual surveillance.

Kitchen God
The Kitchen God and his wife

Country information: China | Bhutan | Hong Kong | India | Japan | Korea | Laos | Malaysia | Mongolia | Nepal | Singapore | Taiwan | Tibet | Thailand | Vietnam

More Countries in Asia
Map of Southeast Asia

Back to the index of Chinese Customs and Traditions Glossary

back       Back one page
Bookmark/share this page



One World - Nations Online .:. let's care for this planet

Existence is the mother of all things. 老子
Site Map | Information Sources | Advertise with OWNO | Disclaimer: Privacy Policy, etc. | Contact: "> [email protected] | Copyright © 1998-2015 ::