The Story of Nian

There is a legend about the origin of "year". In ancient times, our ancestors were subject to the threat of a most ferocious animal called 'Nian' (year), which lived on various kinds of animals. In winter where food was scarce in the mountains, 'Nian' would intrude the villages to eat human beings and beasts of burden. People were frightened and on tenterhooks. People fought against Nian for many years, and they found Nian was afraid of three things: red color, fire and sound. Therefore, in winter people hung a piece of red peach wood at the door, lighted a pile of fire at the gate, beat gongs and drums heavily to make a loud sound, without sleeping throughout the night. One night Nian intruded into the village again and saw the red color and fire at every door and heard a thunderous sound. It was frightened and retreated to the mountains. From then on it dare not come out again. After the night was over, people gave congratulations to each other. They put up red lanterns and drank liquor and wine at feasts to celebrate their victory.

To celebrate the great victory people of every family would paste red paper couplets on the door panels, light red lanterns, beat gongs and drums, let off fireworks and firecrackers all through the night. Early next morning they would greet each other happily. Generation after generation, the day of Spring Festival came into being.


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