Celebrating Chinese New Year - A New Year's Legend

by Tricia Morrissey, Dec 27, 2005 | Destinations: China / Beijing

One New Year's eve, local bandits played a trick on a nearby village. Using bamboo and scraps of cloth, the bandits disguised themselves as a strange and scary animal. Roaring and stomping, the wild beast made its way to town. The villagers were so frightened they ran to the forest and hid in the dark all night. With no one to stop them, the bandits ransacked the village and stole precious grain from the barns.

The next day, the tired villagers crept home to discover their belongings tossed about; overturned tables and broken bowls lay carelessly on the floor. It was the work of the strange animal. They called it the Nian ("Year") because it came on the eve of the new year.

Working together, the villagers devised a fiery plan to scare the menacing Nian away. When the creature appeared again, some villagers were disguised as ferocious lions. They leaped toward the strange beast, howling and banging pots and pans. Other villagers waved torches and set off shrieking, smoking firecrackers. The bandits cried out in terror and fled from the village.

The next year, and every year that followed, the villagers made lion costumes on New Year's eve, in case the fearsome Nian returned. Though it never has, families still spend the New Year together, sending off the hardships of the old year with blazing lanterns, firecrackers and a Lion Dance.

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A New Year's Legend
New Year's Traditions
Flowers & Plants
Eating Together
Lion Dance
Tray of Happiness
Red Envelopes
Lantern Festival
Chinese Calligraphy
Chinese Brush Painting