The Minor New Year's Day, or the 23rd day of the twelfth lunar month of each year, is a day for offering sacrifices to the kitchen god and doing a thorough cleaning. The custom has been around since former times. It is also a day marking the beginning of the celebrations of traditional Chinese New Year, with paying tribute to the kitchen god and a spring cleaning being the two main activities.
Offering sacrifices to the kitchen god is a widely impacting and popular custom in Chinese folk culture. In former times, almost every household had a spirit tablet dedicated to the kitchen god or a portrait of him in the kitchen, with the couplet bearing "Put in a good word for us in heaven; keep us safe in the mortal world" on both sides of the tablet or portrait. According to the legend, the kitchen god is a god sent by the Jade Emperor to human world, in charge of the kitchen of every household. In other words, he's a god of protection for the whole family.
According to general costumes, only men are allowed to perform the sacrificial ritual in honor of the kitchen god. After sending off the kitchen god, every household begins to worship their ancestors. On the eve of the lunar New Year, the kitchen god is believed to spend the New Year in the mortal world together with other gods. Ceremonies like "welcoming the kitchen range" and "welcoming gods" are also held.
The Minor New Year's Day is also called "spring cleaning day". Every household does a thorough cleaning by sweeping the house, wiping the windows and washing cooking utensils. At the same time, the cleaning also symbolizes people's wishes to get rid of the unhappiness of the past year and to welcome the arrival of a new year.