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Ancient Origins | 10/9/2017 | Staff
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For many of us, the kitchen is very important place. Apart from its role as a place for family members to gather, the kitchen often represents the warmth, happiness and harmony within the family. Vietnamese scholar Huỳnh Ngọc Trảng expresses the importance of the kitchen in Vietnam as follows: “The kitchen stove is like the sun: it brings people close together and gathers them around because of its warmth, heat and light . . . the kitchen is the place where food is cooked, so it is the center of life, it is from the kitchen that life is granted.”

The strong relationship between the kitchen and the familial relationship is shown by the legendary existence of special deities of Asian mythology presiding in household kitchens. Traditionally, just before the Lunar New Year, the kitchen gods would go to Heaven to report to the Heavenly Emperor on his family’s activities during the year.

China - Family - Kitchen - God - Report

In China, the family ‘send off’ their kitchen god to heaven to make their report by burning the paper image that had hung over their stove for the entire year. The smoke rising to the heavens symbolically represents his journey to heaven, while fire crackers are lit to speed up the kitchen god’s travel. To ensure a good report before the Heavenly Emperor, honey was rubbed on the lips of the paper god so that the kitchen god would have only sweet things to say to the Heavenly Emperor—or so that the sticky honey would prevent him from opening his mouth and no bad news would be told!

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Kitchen - Gods - Mythology - Guardians - Harmony

However, the kitchen gods of Asian mythology, also known as guardians of the harmony of the households, were once regular people who suffered in their own family lives. Behind the...
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