Chinese New Year is a major celebration in Chinese culture.
This holiday marks the beginning of the new year in the ancient lunar calendar that is based upon the moon's cycles.
Full of customs and traditions, the origins of Chinese New Year contain a number of legends and folk tales.
One such legend circles around a terrifying creature called Nian.
This is where our story begins…
A long time ago there existed a quiet village.
The villagers lived simple, peaceful lives and were generally quite happy.
Things would change, however, on the eve of the lunar new year, as the villagers began their preparations to hide from what was soon to come.
High in the mountains lived a horrible demon creature called Nian.
This monster resembled a lion with sharp horns and menacing teeth!
Throughout the year he would sleep soundly, until the lunar new year arrived, when he would descend upon the village.
Nian would devour crops, gobble up livestock, and any child it found would disappear.
In fear, the villagers would lock up their homes and hide until Nian had passed.
One year, as the fateful day approached, an old beggar entered the village.
Seeing everyone locking up their homes, he asked if anyone was willing to offer him a place to stay.
The villagers, however, were too concerned with protecting themselves that they paid no attention to the old man.
An old woman from the east side of the village saw the poor man.
She brought him some food and explained why everyone was in such a panic.
She pleaded with the beggar to leave as soon as possible or else he may suffer a terrible fate.
He requested that if she offered him a place to stay for the night he would reward her by banishing the evil creature.
Not convinced, she continued to plead with the man, but in the end, since she feared being left out when Nian arrived, she had no choice but to agree to his proposal.
Once midnight arrived, so did Nian.
Normally, the village remained completely silent and dark, however, this year there was something different.
At one end of the village, Nian could see lights in the distance.
Approaching cautiously, Nian drew closer to the home.
Once Nian arrived, it found the home of the old woman had been covered with red papers and bright light was coming from inside.
It began to tremble and growl in fear.
Enraged by such unusual and irritating things, Nian charged the front door, but was met by a barrage of loud intimidating practice and flashes, stopping Nian in its tracks.
Through the smoke, the old man emerged in a bright red gown, who was loudly beating a drum and roaring with laughter at how scared Nian appeared.
Overcome with fear, Nian fled away through the dark night.
The next day, the villagers emerged from their locked homes and were surprised to discover the village remained untouched.
At this moment, the old woman remembered the message from the beggar.
She beckoned to the other villagers to examine her home to see what the old man had done to save their village.
They were interested to see all of the red papers, lanterns and burnt bamboo (the cause of the cracking sound and inspiration for modern-day firecrackers).
They were quickly enlightened by the fact that these seemingly simple objects have been the same that had scared away Nian and kept their village safe.
To celebrate their triumph over the beast, the villagers darned similar bright red outfits and visited neighbours to share the joy.
The news quickly spread and soon after, Nian was no longer a threat to anyone.
As the years passed these traditions were formed and the fears that the new year had once caused was replaced with the excitement and celebration and everyone would stay out late to welcome the new year.
We wish everyone a very happy Chinese New Year and we hope that it will be full of prosperity and happiness for all!