Vietnamese families on the 23 rd of the last month of the lunar year are busy to stage a farewell ceremony for the Kitchen Gods (Tao Quan) on their yearly visit of Heaven.

The Kitchen Gods, the chief guardian spirit of the kitchen, are believed to comprise two male gods and one female, who bless the household and keep up the kitchen fire, making every member of the family happy and wealthy.

As the legend goes, the Kitchen Gods will ride carps to Heaven on the day to deliver an annual report on the household’s activities to the God of Heaven.

As Tao Quan makes their journey on the back of fish, it is traditional to release live carps into lakes or rivers, which is considered a kindhearted deed to pray for good luck.

On that day, people also burn paper clothing, including hats, robes and boots, intended for use by Tao Quan on the trip beyond.

After the Kitchen Gods go to Heaven, Vietnamese normally tidy and decorate their houses to usher in the New Year as they believe that a clean house represents a fresh star.

Although Vietnamese in regions across the country pay their homage to Tao Quan in their own special ways, they remain important figures in the rich texture of Vietnamese New Year.

Beliefs about the Kitchen Gods have also changed over the year and a number of Vietnamese families now welcome the ceremony earlier and use paper carps instead of real offerings to suit the modern life.

The fire in the kitchen is the symbol of not only warm family union, but also a bumper harvest and agricultural development of Vietnamese people. The custom of worshipping the Kitchen Gods reflects Vietnamese’s respect of family happiness as well as their fine tradition lifestyle on the new year occasion./.