The important festival of the Chinese New Year is starting today. Also known as the spring festival Chinese New Year 2018 is celebrating the year of the dog. Bet you didn’t know there are a few traditions behind the celebration.
We are all aware of the many myths and legends associated with various traditions. I just want to share a few of them here along with some interesting superstitions they also believe in.
What are the myths?
We all wonder why is the Chinese new year celebrated? Why do they use red decorations? what is with the malt candy? Well don’t worry I am sure we are about to find out below.
Here are a few myths they believe and the story behind them.
The Chinese dragon:
OK this is a beautiful story and one I was very intrigued by and started to make sense.
In ancient times, there was a monster named Nián (年). It usually lives at the bottom of the sea and comes up once a year to feast on animals and humans. On this day, the villagers would all escape into the mountains. One year, a beggar came to seek shelter, but everyone was hurrying away. Only an old woman took him in and he promised to chase Nian away. He busied himself with decorating the homes.
At midnight, Nian lumbered in but stopped short when it saw the red paper on the doors. As it roared in anger, firecrackers suddenly sounded and it trembled in fear. When it saw the beggar, dressed in red, laughing at it, it could only run away.
The villagers came back the next day and were pleasantly surprised that the homes were all still standing. They realized that loud noises and the colour red were Nian’s kryptonite.
This is why on Chinese new year people eat fortified inside their homes surrounded red decorations. Then at midnight fireworks are set off and people will celebrate in their new red attire.
Poetry and the evil spirits:
One of the red decorations that Chinese people much love is Spring Festival couplet poems. They are pasted on both sides of the door frame. Nian isn’t the only monster that these poems protect you against!
More specifically, they guard against demons who wander around the human world at night looking for trouble. They must return to the underworld at dawn. Two gods guard the entrance, which is under a giant peach tree. Any demons that harmed humans during the night would be seized and fed to the tigers.
To safeguard their homes, people began to carve the gods’ names into peach wood tablets.
The peach wood tablets are then placed outside doors so to scare away all the demons before they get into the houses.
red pockets and why they are given:
According to legends, there used to be an evil spirit named Sui. It would appear on New Year’s Eve and pat the heads of sleeping children three times. The children would end up with a fever. Even if they recovered from the fever, they’d never be the same again. One couple entertained their child with some coins at night. When he fell asleep, they placed the coins on red paper and left it by the pillow. When Sui came, the coins flashed and frightened it away. From then on, parents would give children money wrapped in red paper every New Year’s Eve.
The stove god and candy:
The Stove God is in charge of people’s meals and livelihoods. He’s one of the gods that interact with humans the most.
On the little new year before the official “big” New Year, he returns to the heavens. The Stove God reports to the Jade Emperor, telling him how each family was during the year. He later returns to Earth to either bless or punish the families, as ordered by the Jade Emperor.
This is why families will make malt candy gourds and leave it out at night (kind of like cookies for Santa Claus).
The candy will sweeten the Stove God’s mouth so he’ll only praise the family. It can also stick his teeth together, stopping him from saying bad things. This way, the family will enjoy plentiful food the entire year.
So as you can see these are just a few of the Chinese New Year myths and traditions.
Interesting aren’t they?
How many did you know?
Will you be celebrating the Chinese new year this year. and how will you be celebrating?