Chinese New Year is just around the corner and all of Hong Kong is preparing for the big holiday. Red decorations are seen everywhere, firecrackers are being sold at a record pace, and everyone is preparing for the lion dance. But why is everything red? Why are firecrackers so popular? And what is the lion dance all about? This short article will introduce a legend explaining the Chinese New Year traditions that millions of people hold dear to their heart.
Legend has is that in ancient times there was a monster by the name Nian who only came out on New Years Eve, terrorized Chinese villages, and hunted down the villagers and their livestock. Eventually the gods came and locked the monster away at the edge of the world, but this did not keep him away for long. Once the monster escaped he was eager to get his revenge on the people.
However, in the meantime an old man had decided to paint the houses of his village red and started burning bamboo which resulted in making loud cracking sounds. When the Nian arrived to the village, hoping to get his revenge, he was terrified to come near. As it turns out the monster had a weak spot. He was afraid of the color red and of loud noises. Once the villagers figured this out they started celebrating the defeat of the Nian. Since then it has become a tradition to have and a lion dance representing the Nian, red decorations and firecrackers on Chinese New years.
It comes as no surprise that the Chinese New Year is called “Guo Nian” in Chinese, translating into “overcoming Nian.” However, the earliest written sources of the Nian dates back only to the early days of Republic of China. Hence, it is unclear if this legend is one of traditional folklore or an invention of modern writers in attempt to explain traditions. One thing about Chinese New Years is clear though – it is about bringing family together and joyfully celebrating together.
Some may choose to believe this legend, and some may not. Regardless of your choice, have a Happy New Year!