The most important holiday for Chinese around the world is undoubtedly Chinese New Year — and it all started out of fear.
The centuries-old legend on the origins of the New Year celebration varies from teller to teller, but they all include a story of a terrible mythical monster who preyed on villagers. The lion-like monster’s name was Nian (年) which is also the Chinese word for “year.”
The stories also all include a wise old man who counsels the villagers to ward off the evil Nian by making loud noises with drums and firecrackers and hanging red paper cutouts and scrolls on their doors because for some reason, the Nian is scared of the color red.
The villagers took the old man’s advice and the Nian was conquered. On the anniversary of the date, the Chinese recognize the “passing of the Nian” known in Chinese as guo nian (过年), which is also synonymous with celebrating the New Year.
The date of Chinese New Year changes each year as it is based on the lunar calendar. While the western Gregorian calendar is based on the earth’s orbit around the sun, China and most Asian countries use the lunar calendar that is based on the moon’s orbit around the earth. Chinese New Year always falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice. Other Asian countries such as Korea, Japan and Vietnam also celebrate New Year using the lunar calendar.
This year’s presiding animal zodiac is the Snake. Richard was born in the year of the Dragon, the most revered of all the animal zodiac figures and yours truly was born in the year of the Monkey (reported to be the cleverest of the animal zodiac figures)
We wish one and all the happiness of the season!
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