Your mouth will be watering if you hear this Chinese saying :
[In the final lunar month] the 23rd is the day for melon-shaped maltose-eating, the 24th for house cleaning, the 25th for tofu making, the 26th for meat buying, the 27th for chicken preparation, the 28th for leavened dough and the 29th for man tou steaming.
èr shí sān, táng guā zhān, èr shí sì, sǎo fángzi, èr shí wǔ, zuò dòufu, èr shí lìu, qù mǎi ròu, èr shí qì, zǎi gòngjī, èr shí bā, bǎ miàn fā, èr shí jǐu, zhēng mántóu.
From the 25th day of the last month of the lunar year, people begin their preparation of food for Spring Festival. That is because according to the old tradition, family members are not allowed to use knives to cook on the eve and first day of lunar New Year. On the second day, they begin visiting friends and relatives. Consequently, Chinese people need to get 4 to 5 days’ food done before the holiday starts!
Why make tofu? the Chinese character “腐” has the same pronunciation with character “福 fú” (happiness). Making tofu also means welcoming happiness and a good harvest in the new year.
As for the food itself, tofu is a very good substitution for meat. In the old days, poor people always looked forward to a feast of meat on New Year’s Day. However, they were often too poor to afford one. So they turned to tofu, which was “in between” meat and vegetables, and made various dishes from it instead of meat.
Besides making tofu, inNortheast China, people also used to paste paper in the windows on this day. Since living conditions were fairly bad in the old days, people had to paste a layer of paper over their windows to prevent drafts and keep warmth in the room (today, this is still practiced in parts of Northern China, although many people have replaced paper with Saran wrap). Replacing the last year’s paper with new paper and pasting red Spring Festival couplets provides a jubilant atmosphere for the new year.
Enough eating, time to clear up, with the Spring Festival’s Cleaning Day.