The terrifying legend behind Chinese New Year.
A long time ago, the people of China were suffering from the evil clutches of the monster they call “Nian”. On every Chinese New Year celebration, the dreaded monster slithers into their village and devours innocent men, women and children.
But with the kindness from the Heavens above, the villagers’ suffering ended when they were shown the Nian’s fear – the colour red, fire and sound of firecrackers.
After that revelation, on every Chinese New Year, the people of China from all walks of life will put up many forms of red decorations, with firecrackers and light the light for the whole night.
And that is how the celebration of Chinese New Year came to be in modern times.
1. Let’s paint the town RED, RED, RED!
Why are you bombarded with the colour red when Chinese New Year comes around the corner? That is because, in Chinese culture, the colour red represents good luck and happiness.
So during the celebration of Chinese New Year, those who celebrate will adorn their homes with all that is red decorations – such as red lanterns, red Ang Pao, red pineapples and whatever animal sign of the year, to welcome good luck into their lives.
PS: If you remember our previous history lesson, by wearing anything red it will frighten away the “Nian” monster.
2. The songs of Chinese New Year
After the sights of Chinese New Year, the next time you noticed the festival is nearby are the sounds. Wherever you will go, be it shopping malls, small shops along with the road or even a neighbour’s house, the music of the New Year is heard.
Even if you did not understand the Chinese language, you can still recognize the unique melody and lyrics of the festive songs.
3. The art of Lion Dancing
Seeing a red lion dancing in the air as it jumps among the poles, is a spectacle you have to see in person. The lion dance is an act where performers mimic the movements of a lion in a costume designed as the same animal – is usually performed during the Chinese New Year and other Chinese traditional, be it cultural and religious festivals. It may also be performed at important occasions such as business opening events, special celebrations or wedding ceremonies, or may be used to honour special guests by the Chinese communities.
Have a look at how the dance is performed at Mid Valley Megamall by Stefan Tan:
4. The act of Lao Sheng
If you come from or lived in Malaysia and Singapore, this is a culture that you might be more familiar with.
Lao Sheng refers to a dish presented with yusheng and ginger shreds and a variety of colourful vegetable shreds and garnished with a special sauce.
So before you can enjoy the dish, use chopsticks to lift the shreds, which indicate the higher you lift, the luckier you are for the upcoming year.
If you want to try making your very own Lao Sheng, here’s a beginner’s recipe for you!
5. A spotless house for Chinese New Year
A common phrase you will hear among the Chinese community in Mandarin is Zaost (尘 Chen) which is pronounced the same as Old (陈旧 Chen Jiu). So by cleaning the house, you clean out the old and the bad, to welcome the new year’s good luck.
There is also a famous legend regarding the importance of house cleaning in Chinese New Year.
A long time ago, there was a god called San Shi Sheng (Three Corpse God) and he was always badmouthing humankind in front of the Jade Emperor.
One day, San Shi Sheng told the Jade Emperor:
“I noticed that humans are starting an uprising to force you to abdicate.”
Jade Emperor became enraged and he ordered San Shi Sheng:
“Find the humans who dare do so and mark their home with a spider web. Then I will kill them!”
San Shi Sheng was happy to comply as he wanted to rule the world of humans. Thus, he did as ordered.
As the ordered commenced, Zao Jun (the Kitchen God) noticed the San Shi Sheng’s conspiracy.
He quietly visited the human’s home and cleaned their houses. So when the Jade Emperor emerged into the mortal world, he did not find any spider web whatsoever.
This discovery shined the truth of San Shi Sheng’s lies to the Jade Emperor and he dragged Three Corpse God into jail.
Thus why cleaning the house before the festive day of Chinese New Year came to be part of the culture.
6. The red Ang Pows
If you are a child or still in the world of singlehood, the Ang Pow is your very best friend during this happy celebration.
An Ang Pow is a red package with money inside – depending on how much each family relative wishes to give. This act is a sign of good wishes to them, blessing them all that is good luck in the year to come.
7. The Reunion Dinner
Every Chinese New Year Eve, family members young and old will gather around the dinner table and enjoy their version of a reunion dinner.
This dinner is very meaningful to the Chinese community, as it is the time where family members who hardly see each other can talk, laugh, eat, drink and enjoy their company.
Normally the reunion dinner has many dishes, for example, fish is a must as it indicates an extra feeling (余), wishing for hope, luck and endless blessings in the year to come.
May your New Year be free of worry and fear, filled only with happiness, good health and success all year!
We at IQI Global wishes everyone a Happy Chinese New Year!