Our Confucius Institute for Scotland Chinese language teacher Li Zaifan reveals some secrets about the gods who appear at Chinese New Year
Many Chinese people believe that gods are living everywhere around us, for example, the door god, the kitchen god, and the gods of lightning and thunder. Today we are going to introduce three Chinese gods.
财神 (cáishén) (the God of Wealth) is the god in charge of money. He is widely worshipped by Chinese people. In China, people believe there are several Gods of Wealth, among whom Zhao Gong Ming is the most popular. He has a black face, wears battle armour and a helmet, and carries a golden wheel and metal chain on the back of a black tiger. Zhao’s birthday is the fifth day after the Chinese Spring Festival, and on that day, people who believe in the God of Wealth will open their doors, set off firecrackers, and display tributes to welcome him.
灶神 (zàoshén) (the Kitchen God) is the most important Chinese domestic god who takes charge of people’s diet, grants conveniences in life, and also examines the good or evil of the family. It is believed that on the 23rd day of the twelfth lunar month, just before the Chinese New Year, the Kitchen God returns to Heaven to report the activities of every household over the past year to the Jade Emperor. The Jade Emperor, the Emperor of the Heavens, either rewards or punishes a family based on this annual report. Most of the Chinese people worship the Kitchen God that day, hoping that he will mention more good deeds and fewer bad things in front of the Jade Emperor.
Many Chinese people believe in 门神 (ménshén) (the Door God) as well. The representatives of the Door Gods are Qin Shubao and Gong Yuchi. The Chinese believe that the Door Gods live in the doors of every family, protecting their homes, and preventing ghosts and evil spirits from entering their homes. During the Spring Festival, Chinese people paste new portraits of the Door Gods on their doors, indicating the changing of new clothes for the Door Gods in a new year, and showing their gratitude to them.