Rituals to usher in the lunar new year usually start on the 24th day of the 12th lunar month, which, this year, is today. To mark the Tse Tso (thanking the stove) ceremony, there is a thorough cleaning of homes. Homage is paid to the kitchen god (Tso Kwan) because it is believed he appears before the Jade Emperor in heaven to report on the behaviour of the household. To gain favour, Tso Kwan's shrine is cleaned thoroughly and he is given a delicious meal of glutinous rice and honey, which may be smeared on his mouth to ensure what he says will be flattering and sweet. A generous amount of spirit money is burned to assist him with his travel expenses. Vertical red banners covered with auspicious phrases written in black or gold ink are placed on the main door and across the entrance. They usually refer to health, wealth and longevity, and exhort positive outcomes. Pictures of the door gods, two generals in full military armour, are placed on the front gate to protect against evil spirits. An ancient Taoist legend states they were two brothers who lived under an enormous peach tree and protected mankind by catching demons and throwing them to tigers. Others believe they were two loyal soldiers who guarded a Tang-dynasty emperor while he was asleep.