Chinese people start their preparations for the Spring Festival more than 20 days early. The 12th lunar month in Chinese is called La Yue (腊月 là yuè), so the eighth day of this lunar month is La Yue Chu Ba (腊月初八 là yùe chū bā), or Laba (腊八 là bā). The day is also known as the Laba Rice Porridge Festival. The Laba this year was Jan 17.
Little New Year, which falls about a week before the lunar New Year, is also known as the Festival of the Kitchen God, the deity who oversees the moral character of each household. On this day, a paper image of the Kitchen God is burnt on Little New Year, dispatching the god's spirit to Heaven to report on the family's conduct over the past year. The Kitchen God is then welcomed back by pasting a new paper image of him beside the stove.
Lunar New Year's Eve, the last day of the old year, is one of China's most important traditional holidays. Homes are spotless in and out, doors and windows are decorated with brand new Spring Festival couplets, New Year's pictures, hangings, and images of the Door God, and everyone dresses up in new holiday clothes that are decorated with lucky patterns and auspicious colors.
In northern China, the first meal of the New Year is boiled jiaozi (stuffed dumplings). In the south, it is niangao (New Year's cake). In the Chinese language, niangao is a homonym of the phrase "higher every year," signifying the wish for steadily increasing prosperity.
The second day of the Chinese New Year is also known as “Kai Nian” in Chinese, meaning the beginning of a year. On this day, shops, businessmen and even ordinary families will offer sacrifices to the God of Fortune who they welcomed on the Chinese New Year’s Eve. They hope the God of Fortune can give them a great fortune in the coming year. The five main sacrifices that big shops in Beijing offer include: a whole pig, a whole lamp, a whole cock, a whole duck, and a live red carp.