Lunar New Year's Eve

0 CommentsPrint E-mail, January 7, 2009
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Lunar New Year's Eve, the last day of the old year, is one of China's most important traditional holidays. Homes are spotless inside and out, doors and windows are decorated with brand new Spring Festival couplets, New Year's pictures, hangings, and images of the Door God, and everyone dresses up in new holiday clothes that are decorated with lucky patterns and auspicious colors.

Legend has it that long ago during the age of great floods, there was a vicious monster named Nian, which means "year." Whenever the thirtieth day of the last lunar month arrived, this monster would rise up out of the sea, killing people and wrecking havoc in their fields and gardens. The people would bar their doors before dark and sit up all night, coming out the next day to greet their neighbors and congratulate them on surviving.

Once on the last night of the last month, Nian suddenly burst into a small village, devouring almost all the people who lived there. Only two families emerged unscathed. The first, a newlywed couple, avoided harm because their celebratory red wedding clothes resembled fire to the monster, so it did not dare to approach them. The other family was unharmed because their children were playing outside setting off noisy firecrackers, which scared the monster away. Ever since, people have worn red clothes, set off firecrackers, and put up red decorations on New Year's Eve to keep the vicious monster Nian away. Later, according to the legend, the Emperor Star deity struck Nian down with a flaming orb and bound him to a stone column. Only then was there peace in the world. Now, people stay up all night and burn incense on New Year's Eve, entreating the Emperor Star to descend to earth and protect them.

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