January 2oth will begin the period of Major or Greater Cold. It is supposed to be the coldest time of the year. In fact we had extremely cold weather a few weeks earlier and now we are having what might be termed “normal” colder weather interspersed with actual warm spells. On the bright side it means I’ll be paying lower utility bills.
It also means I can get out to cut up some of the firewood to replace what was burned when the wind chills took us below zero measured in Fahrenheit. If the weather continues to yo-yo in this way I want to be ready for the next dip. Since the floors get so cold and the house stays cold even after it starts to warm up outside I’m not really complaining about the warm spells. It’s getting close to the Chinese New Year, the one I like to celebrate and make a big production out of. The warm weather means I can get out to shop and open the doors and windows for cleaning without making the house feel like the arctic.
This year the 20th is also the day of the Kitchen God Festival. According to tradition the evening of this day he and his wife will return to heaven to report to the jade emperor on the management of the house hold. Offerings are made (some say bribes) so they will make a good report and the Jade Emperor will shower fortune on the family. Honey is dabbed on to the lips of the couple o the paper portrait put above the stove. This is also to ensure that the report is “sweet” although some suspicious types say it’s to seal the lips and keep them silent, instead of giving a bad report. Late in the evening the old picture comes down and is burned. It is replaced with a new one on New Year’s Day. My kitchen god and his wife are pasted on a cabinet door over the stove. He also used to be called the stove god and mine is pasted above my stove on a cabinet door and serves a special purpose. The electrics in this house are so dubious I am really concerned about fires and he serves to remind me to be careful around the stove and to be fire safety conscious.
Chinese New Year also cheers me up in another way. As it approaches the sun sets later and the sun rises earlier. Mi Sun is better than an alarm clock. Except when we have time changes she is meowing in my ear at precisely 6:30 AM every morning. Occasionally I will ignore her until seven but then she gets insistent. I am starting to see light on the horizon when I get up rather than total darkness. So in spite of the calendar saying it is Major Cold and the skies often dark and cloudy, I am not feeling the gloom of deep winter this year.