Sunday, January 18, 2009

Lunar New Year

Just to clarify before I go on, I'm Korean American. I was raised by a white family so my knowledge of Korean culture is limited at best. I do know that Korean's don't really get into the Lunar New Year Celebration. However that said, if I have to give offers to any sort of god, I'd rather have it go to a "Kitchen God" any day of the week!

At Lunar New Year, many Chinese families pay their respects to the Kitchen God known as either Zaowang or Tsao Wang. One of the most popular lesser gods and credited with the invention of fire, the KG is the one who oversees the virtues of a family. Why the kitchen? Well, the heart of any family tends to be here, in the kitchen.

So apparently, KG duties include going back to heaven to report on how good the family is. And the idea is to bribe him before his big trip up. So families will put offering for him by the stove. Food that symbolizes sweet life, prosperity, longity, etc. I think wine is also set up in hopes of getting KG boozed up so he'll be even happier to sing the praises of the family once he arrives in heaven.

There is something so adorable about this practice and yet so familiar. It sorta of reminds me of the wine that Jewish families leave out for the holy spirit. Offering to gods and spirits cross so many culture borders and I really love that. But I love the idea of the KG so much b/c I love the idea of a god living inside my stove!

Perhaps, I should give my KG an offering so he will not only sing my praises in heaven but also so he can figure out how to get that darn electric oven to bake cakes evenly.

Even though this really isn't a holiday that I celebrate, I do plan on going to Chinatown next Monday to feast on clams, dumplings, pork and noodles! Yum!

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