In anticipation of the Spring Holiday in China, the Small New Year is celebrated.
This year, the main Chinese holiday — the Spring Festival, or as we used to call it Chinese New Year, which in China is also called the Big New Year (Chinese: 大年), will be celebrated on the night of February 4 to 5. If there is a ” big “New Year, then logically, there should be a “small” one. On the 23rd day of the 12th month of the Chinese calendar (this year falls on January 28), the northerners of China just celebrate the very Small New Year (Chinese: 小 小). By the way, Chinese southerners will celebrate this holiday a day later — on the 24th of the 12th month. Why did this difference appear? During the Song Dynasty (960-1279), the Small New Year was celebrated on the 24th. However, later, during the reign of the Manchu Emperor Yongzheng (1723-1735), in order not to burden the imperial treasury too much, it was decided to combine the two rituals of sacrifice into one single one. Before Yongzheng, every year on the 23rd and 24th of the 12th month, i.e. on two consecutive days, the Emperors performed a sacrifice to all spirits in one of the three halls of the Inner Chambers (Kit. Запрет) of the Forbidden City (Chinese :城城) – Kunningun (Chinese: 坤宁宁). Subsequently, it was decided that the imperial court, relatives and close associates of the ruling family should offer a single sacrifice on the 23rd. Commoners were required to do so on the 24th day of the Chinese calendar, and families of fishermen and boatmen, especially those who fished in Poyanghu Lake, China’s largest freshwater lake, were ordered to celebrate this holiday on the 25th. The northern Chinese, unlike the southerners, always felt closer to the imperial court, so they gradually began to celebrate the Small New Year a day earlier, and the southerners, far from politics, remained true to tradition. However, in the provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangsu (except for Nanjing) and Shanghai, two Small New Years are celebrated-on the 24th day of the 12th month of the Chinese calendar and one day before New Year’s Eve. At the same time, in Nanjing and its environs, the 15th day of the 1st month of the Chinese calendar (the Lantern Festival) is considered a Small New Year. Whatever it was, in modern practice, the official day of the celebration of the Small New Year according to the Chinese calendar is considered to be the 23rd day of the 12th month.
In the period of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), this holiday was called the Festival of the Change of Years (Chinese :接接接), since it was believed that on this day the old year “passes the baton” to the new one. Later, during the reign of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), the day of the Little New Year began to be called the Night of the Little Holiday (Chinese: 小 小). How should this day be traditionally spent?
Chinese New Year is just a week away. Therefore, the most important thing on this day is to carry out a general cleaning: so that “the windows are bright and the tables are clean” (Chinese :明明明), everything shines clean and everything is in order. Southerners also traditionally have to clean the house of trash and dust. There is a “skin” interest in this: all this is done to properly organize a send-off to heaven to the Supreme Lord-the Jade Sovereign (Kit .大大帝) of the god of the hearth of Zaoshen (Kit. 灶神) with a report on family affairs for the past year. However, shining clean walls and windows are not enough, you still need to glue the traditional image of Zaoshen and put special sweets in the shape of a pumpkin in front of him (Kit. 糖瓜), it is believed that Zaoshen has a rather bad character, and sweets should appease him. In addition to sweets, dumplings, meat dishes, candles and incense are usually displayed in front of the image of Zaoshen. In modern China, many people believe that children are waiting for the Small New Year more than adults, because according to the Chinese proverb “After the Small New Year, the celebration of the New Year itself begins” (Kit. Adults from this day begin direct preparations for the holiday itself — on this day, many are busy cleaning the house, from this day they begin to prepare gifts for their relatives, buy food for the festive table. In addition to the above, on this day, the Chinese are still engaged in cutting out red paper patterns (Chinese :花花), and the most beautiful of them are pasted on freshly washed windows.