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The origin of the Chinese New Year  

2010-02-11 22:00:51|  分类: 节日 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Legend

The Chinese New Year is now popularly known as the Spring Festival because it starts from the Beginning of Spring. All agree, however, that the character Nian, which in modern Chinese solely means "year", was originally the name of a beast that started to prey on people on the eve of the lunar new year.

One legend goes that the beast Nian had a very big mouth that would swallow a great many people with one bite. People were very scared. One day, an old man came to their rescue, offering to subdue Nian. After that, the old man disappeared riding the beast Nian. He turned out to be an immortal god. Then people began to enjoy their peaceful life.

Before the old man left, he had told people to put up red paper decorations on their windows and doors at each year's end to scare away Nian in case it sneaked back again, because red is the color the beast feared the most.

From then on, the tradition was carried on from generation to generation. For many people today, red sets the joyous mood while the popping of firecrackers adds to the excitement of the New Year.

Today the term "Guo Nian", which may mean "Survive the Nian" becomes "Celebrate the (New) Year" as the word "guo" in Chinese having both the meaning of "pass-over" and "observe".

Harvest Thanksgiving Formalized During Han Dynasty

The Chinese New Year celebrations have their origin with end-of-harvest celebrations when people would offer thanks to gods for good harvests and entreaty for a good crop in the following year. Although they varied according to the different calendars used, the customs were formalized under Han Dynasty (206BC-AD 25) rule.

Traditions Blossom Under Tang Dynasty

Varied festivals around god worship, sacrifice and celebration held at the end of the winter season and at the beginning of the spring were unified under the Han Dynasty rulers and consolidated, with their adoption of the formal Taichu calendar, to the first day of the first lunar month. During the economically prosperous and politically stable Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), celebrations around the New Year blossomed. Traditional customs around superstitions and worship gradually became means for people simply to celebrate and enjoy time with their families.

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