Do you know why is the word "year" is "年 (nián)" in Chinese? And also why the "new year" is also called as "過年 (guònián)"?
The history of the Spring Festival is very long. It is said that there was a custom of "Spring Festival" as early as the Neolithic period.
There is a legend about the origin of the "Spring Festival": In ancient China, there was a beast called "Nian." The "Nian" lived deep in the sea for throughout the year, but every time in a special day (now said New Year's Eve), it would climb ashore, swallows livestock, and harms people. Therefore, on the day of New Year's Eve, the people in every village fled to the mountains to escape from the "Nian" beast.
On one New Year's Eve, there was an old beggar from the outside of the village. The villagers were in a hurry and panic, and no one paid attention to the old beggar. Only the old woman at the east end of the village gave the old man some food and advised him to go up the mountain to avoid the "Nian" beast. The old man picked up his beard and smiled: "If you let me stay at home for one night, I will definitely drive away the "Nian" beast." The old woman continued to persuade, but the old man only laughed and not said anything.
In the middle of the night, the "Nian" beast entered the village. It found that the atmosphere in the village was different from that of previous years: the old woman’s house at the east end of the village, the door was covered with red paper, and the house was full of candles. The "Nian" beast screamed weirdly. When it approached the door, there was a sudden sound of "loud bangs" in the courtyard. "Nian" was shuddering and did not dare to go forward.
It turns out that the "Nian" is most afraid of red, fire and explosion. At this time, the old woman’s house door opened wide, and there appeared a man in the yard wearing a red robe laughing. The "Nian" turned pale with fright, and fled in panic. The next day was the first day of the first month. People who came back from the refuge were very surprised when they saw the village safe and sound. At this time, the old woman realized suddenly and quickly told the villagers about the promise of the old man.
This matter quickly spread in the surrounding villages, and the people all now know how to drive away the "Nian" beast. Every year since then, the family posted red paper couplets and set off firecrackers. In the early morning of the first day of the morning, they will also visit friends and relatives. This custom has been then widely circulated and has become the most important traditional festival of Chinese folk.
- 頭 - tóu - the end of (a place)
- 戰栗 - zhànlì - tremble, shiver
- 炸響 - zhà xiǎng - sound of explosion
- 狼狽逃躥 - lángbèi táo cuān - flee in panic
The photo is taken from here.