Episode 124: Happy New Year- Kicking Off The Poverty Ghost

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Happy Chinese New Year! Thank you for spending the whole year with our podcast. Chinese people have a tradition called kicking off the poverty ghost 送穷 鬼on the fifth or the sixth day of the new year in lunar calendar in different regions of China. So let’s kick our poverty off and welcome a prosperous year.



Poverty ghost 穷鬼, is also called the Son of Poverty 穷子. In the book called SuiShiGuangJi 岁时广记 from the Song dynasty 宋朝, it says, ZhuanXu(一声, 一声), a mythological emperor of ancient China, had a son. The kid never wanted to wear new clothes. If people tried to dress him up, he would tear the clothes apart or burn it until the clothes have holes on and then put them on. The boy didn’t live for long and died on the first month of the new year. People buried him and call him the Son of Poverty.

During the Tang dynasty 唐朝, in the book TuJing 图经, it says people would clean the house and dump the garbage in the rivers and it is a ritual of kicking off the Poverty Ghost. In the article called SongQiongWen 送穷 文 by the famous poet HanYu 韩愈 from the Tang dynasty, he mentioned people would make a cart using willow branches as a form to send off the Poverty Ghost.

During the Song dynasty 宋朝, people did something similar like making a boat out of some leaves and light inside with food prepared. When they set it in the river, it meant they sent off the Poverty Ghost.


Today people usually clean the house, dump garbage, light firecrackers and some places people would throw away old clothes. It is kind of make sense that after a few days of the New Year holiday season, the house is probably pretty messy and it is the time to start clean up and wrap up the holiday moon. I think it is the best day to finally learn from Marie Kondo.



岁时广记 SuiShiGuangJi

图经 TuJing

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