28 Jan Top 3 Chinese New Year Legends You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
The Chinese New Year is one of the most celebrated events around the world. In fact, in some countries, hundreds of thousands gather just for this centuries-old tradition. But if Chinese New Year for most of us is usually about food, parades, and fireworks for the Chinese people, it’s a lot more than that. Here are some bizarre things about the “Spring Festival” you probably didn’t know.
A Beast Called Nian
Almost all countries on the planet celebrate the New Year with food, bright colors, light and plenty of noise. It’s a festival after all. For the Chinese people, however, every little detail about their New Year celebration exists for a reason. According to legend, the Chinese New Year began with a tale of a strange beast called Nian. This monster, who had the head of a lion and the body of the bull, would attack villages every winter and took whatever he found. He also ate villagers, including and especially children. An old man finally figured out that the beast was afraid of loud noises, and, you’ve guessed it right, the colour red. As a result, the Chinese people would hang red lanterns or wear red clothes when the winter was about to come. They would also make loud noises, particularly with the use of firecrackers, to scare Nian away. Some say Nian was eventually captured by a Taoist Monk named Hongjun Laozu, but the traditions continued to this day just to be sure the monster never returns.
All Hail The Kitchen God!
Another legend that explains why the Chinese people set off firecrackers as part of the New Year celebration is about a Kitchen God called Zoo Jun or Zhang Lang. Also known as the Stove God, this god is said to observe activities of every Chinese household, good or bad, and report them to the Jade Emperor every year. The Jade Emperor dwells in heaven and punishes or rewards people according to their deeds. Since no one wants to be punished by the Heavenly Grandfather as the Jade Emperor is also called, families would set off firecrackers in their homes and burn incense. Most importantly they would offer fruits, nuts, and New Year’s cake to the Kitchen God to appease him, or rather, bribe him to give the Jade Emperor a good report on them.
Sui The Demon
Ever wondered why adults hand out red envelopes to children during New Year? Apparently, a demon called Sui was said to appear every New Year’s eve to scare small children. He would touch the children on their foreheads so that the children would be so terrified that they got sick and became mentally ill. To ward off the demon, parents would light up candles and stay up all night. They would also give their child eight coins, which the child would wrap in red paper. The child would open the red packet, re-wrap it, and opened it again until he falls asleep. The parents would then take the red packet and hide it under his pillow. When the evil spirit Sui would come and try to touch the sleeping child’s head, the eight coins, which are actually eight fairies, would emit a strong energy light and drive the demon away. That explains why children receives red envelopes every New Year!