One of the many Chinese customs I’ve adopted since I learned about it through my studies of Feng Shui is the preparation of the kitchen to greet the New Year. Since the kitchen is the area where food is stored and prepared for ingestion into our bodies, it symbolizes a key factor in the health and well-being of the household. The kitchen is also associated with the abundance of life, so treating it with respect is also a major focus.
The simple tasks at hand are to clean the refrigerator and make sure all staples are new in order to have a “fresh start” for the year.
Clean the refrigerator.
This means to clear out all leftover foods so there is nothing left from the previous year. We don’t want to ingest “last year’s” energy. Get rid of the ham, turkey and main course foods. Check the bottles and jars of items you have used like mustard, pickles and olives. Try to use them up during the days preceding New Year’s Day. Give them away if you can’t use them up. Since “food banks” usually don’t take items that have been opened, check to see if there is an elderly person in the neighborhood who would love to use them. Your “last year’s” energy item is someone else’s “new” item.
While going through all these items, place them on a counter and clean each shelf and drawer. Go through the freezer to remove all items with freezer burn and other out-dated products. Having a clean refrigerator and freezer sets the stage for having the central storage or appliance in “optimum” order, symbolic of a healthy “heart” of the kitchen.
To establish the foundation for health, we are going to do a similar task with the four staples – flour, salt, sugar and rice. Again, we are going to get rid of all open bags and containers of these four products. And, again, a neighbor or needy family would be a great recipient. I will admit I sometimes make a very large batch of hummingbird food with my sugar in order to use it up. The other items I find homes who would benefit from this gift.
Since you most probably are going to be needing these staples, take a trip to your store to purchase them within a few days before the New Year. Just don’t start using them until after the year starts.
If you have a dear friend or know of a family that might not be able to financially afford all of these, you might consider buying multiples. “Gifting” them a New Year’s Gift Basket of staples with a written note to explain this tradition can be a wonderful, yet rather inexpensive, way to start the New Year with a focus on love and health.
A toast – “Here’s to the four foundational staples and corners of health (flour, salt, sugar and rice,) and to the a clean and healthy heart (refrigerator) of your kitchen!”