Once upon a time, there was a monster named Nian. Nian terrorized the villages during the winter months when there was little to eat and just about everyone was very afraid of Nian.
This is because Nian was big and strong and fierce. The villagers tried to find the beast's weaknesses time and again.
One night, Nian came again to an unassuming village looking for something to eat. Caught unaware, Nian stumbled into the hut of a firecracker maker who only had firecrackers in his hut.
Desperate, the man lit up a firecracker and tossed it towards Nian.
And much to his surprise and delight, Nian scrambled away without looking back.
The man found Nian’s weakness: loud noise. So, from then on, this tradition caught on. Villagers would regularly light up firecrackers to scare away Nian the monster.
Eventually, the Chinese character for Nian took on the meaning of “year.” It symbolizes the safe passage to a new year when all misfortunes are left behind.
And in many parts of China, it is still a tradition to light up firecrackers on New Year’s Eve throughout the New Year to celebrate.
Now, Chinese New Year is very similar to Thanksgiving.
It is a time for the family and eating. Shops and stores are closed. Everyone will visit family and relatives starting with the husband’s family and relatives on the first day of the lunar year, which starts today, Feb. 3.
The second day is reserved for the wife’s family and relatives. The third day of the new year is for visiting amongst friends.
And celebrations will continue for about 15 days until the onset of the full moon.