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According to ancient folklore, Chinese New Year started as the result of a ferocious monster named “Nian”.  With it’s razor sharp teeth and deadly horns, this dragon-like beast was feared by all villagers.

Once a year at the end of the Lunar New Year, Nian would descend on the village and feed on livestock and young children.  Out of fear, villagers would have to board up their homes, pack their most valuable belongings and escape into remote mountains to avoid Nian’s vicious attacks.

This continued for many years until a strange old man with silver hair and piercing bright eyes took refuge in their village.  Donned in rags and walking with a stick, many villagers didn’t pay much attention to him, except for an older woman who brought him food and water.  She told him of the ferocious monster and the terror he was causing on the village and urged him to flee with the others.

The old man calmly refused, and told the women he knew how to stop the monster from destroying the village.  He went on to explain the monster was deathly afraid of loud noises and the color red and the villagers needed to work together to post red paper on the windows and doors and burn bamboo to make loud crackling sounds.  (In modern times, we now use fireworks and firecrackers)

The older women, and the rest of the villagers, were not convinced and escaped to the mountains while the old man stayed behind and took matters into his own hands.  He spent the day posting red paper and burning bamboo and when night fell on the last day of Lunar New Year there was no sign of Nian.

A few days passed and the villagers returned home to find their village had not been destroyed!  Upon realizing the old man was right all along, they celebrated the triumph over the monster and spread the word.

This is why, to this day, red has become the most popular color for Chinese New Year celebrations, and why setting off fireworks is so important!


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