During Chinese New Year, the ancient Chinese custom of sending away the five ghosts of the poor and welcoming the god of wealth is still practiced by Chinese people who wish to send away poverty and welcome a prosperous life.
According to the custom, the fifth day of the first lunar month, or “po wu,” is a very important day because that is when the official send-off and welcome occurs.
Five Ghosts of the Poor
Renowned writer Han Yu of the Tang Dynasty wrote: “Poor wisdom, poor knowledge, poor writing, poor life, and poor relationships, these five ghosts are trouble for me.”
He mentioned that when sending away the ghosts, one should prepare a symbolic boat and cart for their journey, and give them dry food to take on their trip.
From Dec. 30 to Jan. 4 one is not supposed to use brooms. If you do need to sweep a room, the dirt collected can only be placed in a corner until Jan. 5. On this day, all of the dirt is swept out the door and placed in a pile, then a large firecracker is lit and thrown on the pile—“bang!” This is called exploding the poor to explode bad luck and poverty from one’s home.
Nowadays, people get up at dawn, set off firecrackers, and clean their houses.
Welcome God of Wealth
After getting rid of the bad luck and poverty, one must welcome the god of wealth—right away.
On Dec. 24 the gods of the human world ascend to heaven to report good and bad to the Jade Emperor. They will return to the human world on Jan. 4 where they continue to accept worship and monitor the good and bad in the human world.
So this is the day one must welcome the gods descending to the human world very carefully.
Jan. 5 is the god of wealth’s birthday, but a celebration is held the night before. As part of the celebration, people have a big feast and hold ceremonies—hoping to have plenty of money and a prosperous life in the coming year.
One hour before officially welcoming the god of wealth, one must take a bath to purify the body, put on new clothes, and wipe clean the spirit tablet and altar. Also, the god of wealth will not enter a dark room, so the room must be well lit. Once the auspicious time hits, one begins to burn incense and pay homage sincerely.
The legendary god of wealth is the god of the five directions, “east, west, south, north, and center,” signifying that one can obtain wealth in any direction one takes. The earlier one welcomes the god of wealth the better, as the true god of wealth is thought to appear early.
Written in English by Arleen Richards.
Read the original article in Chinese.