20) A story of Lunar New Year – Nian (年)

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By courtesy of wikipedia.com
By courtesy of wikipedia.com

The mythology side of Lunar New Year was originated from a monster ‘nian’ (meaning ‘year’).  The beast had a head like a lion and a body like a bull.  It lives in deep sea for the whole season.

Every spring around the lunar month or Chinese New Year it will come ashore to destroy farms and attack humans.  Villagers were helpless.  They discussed how to make the ‘nian’ stay away from them and leave them in peace.  So they started hanging red cloths and lighted red lanterns, pasting red couplet outside the houses in the hope to deter this ferocious animal.  Whenever, the animal appeared, the villagers make loud noises with drums and gongs, chopping vegetables /meats loudly and ignite fireworks to subdue the beast.  Somehow, ‘nian’ was back off by these intimidations.  It left the village and never returned again.

nian animal(www.keichun.edu.hk)
By courtesy of http://www.keichun.edu.hk

Thus, the villagers realized that loud sound, the color of red, bright lights and fireworks etc were effective deterants to ‘nian’.

Since then, people have kept the tradition alive by beating drums and gongs on streets, and lighting fireworks to drive the beast away during the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival.  They wish each other ‘Gong Xi” for a new life of survivor, this is the mythology of how the Lunar New Year come about.

nian animal 01

nian animal 03

nian animal 02

The three scarlet friends humming along in their harmony home.

52 thoughts on “20) A story of Lunar New Year – Nian (年)

    Our Adventure in Croatia said:
    January 31, 2013 at 12:17 am

    what a great and interesting tradition!

      Sydney Fong responded:
      January 31, 2013 at 7:28 am

      Thank you, let’s dance! :)

    guttermutt said:
    January 31, 2013 at 12:29 am

    Most interesting! Perhaps I should invest in a red lanturn! :)

    Gretchen Del Rio said:
    January 31, 2013 at 12:33 am

    I love this new year celebration and now I know the mythology. Thank you.

      Sydney Fong responded:
      January 31, 2013 at 7:31 am

      Some how the story makes me relate to CG movie! Cheers! :)

    Rexlin Victor said:
    January 31, 2013 at 12:41 am

    Wow, that’s really great!!! Amazing shots!!!

      Sydney Fong responded:
      January 31, 2013 at 7:32 am

      And a great reader! Thanks, Rexlin! :)

    Long Life Cats and Dogs said:
    January 31, 2013 at 12:45 am

    Very interesting, although why on earth would a lion or a bull or a combination live under the sea :D

      Sydney Fong responded:
      January 31, 2013 at 7:34 am

      Who knows, it could be alien? :)

    lilyboat said:
    January 31, 2013 at 12:47 am

    I did not know those facts at all! And I grew up celebrating Lunar new year for 20 years!

      Sydney Fong responded:
      January 31, 2013 at 7:36 am

      Not too late ! Somehow this mythology strike me once a year! :)

    adinparadise said:
    January 31, 2013 at 12:49 am

    What a colourful and noisy festival that must be. :) Thanks for sharing, Sydney.

      Sydney Fong responded:
      January 31, 2013 at 7:38 am

      Yes, I don’t like noisy place, I prefer go for park stroll talking to plants and green! :)

    Charron's Chatter said:
    January 31, 2013 at 2:07 am

    Sounds like great good fun–and I love the backstory! I am going to wear red today for sure!!

      Sydney Fong responded:
      January 31, 2013 at 7:41 am

      That’s good! But I couldn’t go for red cloth!
      Red is not my color, some how people wanted to beat me up when I wear red!
      Is true! :)

    mixedupmeme said:
    January 31, 2013 at 2:33 am

    As I am scrolling down my reader of my favorite bloggers I see many interesting pictures. The pictures always appear before the name of the blogger. Somehow I always know that a picture belongs to Sydney before I see his name. :)
    All your pictures are so interesting and colorful.

      Sydney Fong responded:
      January 31, 2013 at 7:46 am

      In that case, thanks to my Canon EOS600 and friends of green and all those appreciations across the ocean.
      And finally, the woman staying to me – Meme! Thanks! Sydney hug, hug! :)

    […] 20) A story of Lunar New Year – Nian (年) (addgrainonearth.com) […]

      Sydney Fong responded:
      January 31, 2013 at 7:53 am

      Hey! Happy CNY in advance! :)

    chris13jkt said:
    January 31, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Thank you for sharing about the origin of the Lunar New Year. It will be better to know the reason of the festival than just celebrate it. Have a great day, my friend!

      Sydney Fong responded:
      January 31, 2013 at 3:52 pm

      Yes, rather just enjoy and eat, eat and enjoy, at the end don’t know what is happening?
      Haha! Chris, Sydney miss you! Have a good day!

    moderndayruth said:
    January 31, 2013 at 11:26 am

    Ohh, i miss those parts so much! I am forever in love with Chinese culture!

      Sydney Fong responded:
      January 31, 2013 at 3:53 pm

      Thanks, I’ll try to put more post about CNY! Just stay tune!
      Have a great day!

    nightlake said:
    January 31, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    now I know why my neighbours put up red decorations outide their houses..

      Sydney Fong responded:
      January 31, 2013 at 4:42 pm

      You can put up more bigger and more reddish deco for your territory! :)

    yiyime said:
    January 31, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Hi Sydney How are you. Not sure how soon you get this message but I wanted to ask you something. I just noticed today that a couple people left me comments then when I replied the message I sent appeared in my notifications as if I sent it to myself. Has that ever happened to you ? I am not sure what is going on , this never happened to me before. Any insights would be greatly appreciated .

      Sydney Fong responded:
      January 31, 2013 at 4:40 pm

      No, never happen to me before! Perhaps you may wait for a while go for a break or may be do it later!
      The problems may liaise with WP, or you can serve thru internet WP?
      Sorry, can’t help you! But any way, wish you get into right path soon! :)

        yiyime said:
        January 31, 2013 at 4:42 pm

        thank you

    Sam and the dunes said:
    January 31, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    It was really interesting to read and learn about the mythology behind the Lunar New Year. Great photos too!

      Sydney Fong responded:
      January 31, 2013 at 8:47 pm

      Hey, thanks! You are welcome! Have a nice day! :)

    coffeebeans76 said:
    January 31, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Very interesting. Thanks for posting – http://indiandesignsandcrafts.wordpress.com

      Sydney Fong responded:
      January 31, 2013 at 8:53 pm

      Wow! You link let me realize you have a great Blog! I’ll be back surely!
      Nice to meet you! :)

    pilipala51 said:
    January 31, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    Thanks for sharing the background to a Lunar New Year. Very interesting story and pictures.

      Sydney Fong responded:
      January 31, 2013 at 8:51 pm

      This is my job as a life Blogger!
      Thanks for spending time with me! Have a great day! :)

    thoughtsfromanamericanwoman said:
    February 1, 2013 at 9:14 am

    Very interesting, I like the tradition. It sure does sound festive. The pictures of the lanterns are beautiful and so colorful. I wish you a “Gong Xi”. Blessings – Patty

      Sydney Fong responded:
      February 1, 2013 at 12:36 pm

      Patty, thanks! Huat ah (Prosperous) !

    Mohenjo said:
    February 2, 2013 at 1:35 am

    Reblogged this on James' World 2.

      Sydney Fong responded:
      February 2, 2013 at 1:59 am

      Thanks! :)

        Mohenjo said:
        February 2, 2013 at 2:03 am

        Tou are most Welcome!

    Julia said:
    February 3, 2013 at 9:27 am

    When we lived in Hawaii we went to Chinese New Year (1996, Year of the Rat I think) where we saw the lion dancers. They would go down the streets and people would feed them cabbages at the doorways of different businesses. The lion would “eat” the cabbage and sometimes spit it out after chewing it up! The noise of the firecrackers was deafening but it was so much fun to watch! Thanks for explaining about the history. I am assuming the lion dancers are tied to the story of the monster with a lion’s head? Do you know about the cabbages or what significance that has?

      Sydney Fong responded:
      February 3, 2013 at 11:20 pm

      Cabbage in Chinese “菜头” literally means GOOD LUCK AHEAD. By feeding cabbage to the lion (nian),, the lion will spit it out a couplet with a good blessing in return.
      This is the story behind. In local from the first day of CNY to the 15th day, you will see lion dance celebration from one street end to another.
      Some they are asked to do it for the prosperity and pay them a red “Ang Bow” for the appreciation. in return.
      Some just doing on adhoc, door to door basic!
      See you, Julia! Have fun! :)

    ryan said:
    February 4, 2013 at 7:43 am

    Hi Sydney…
    I think i made a mistake on my comment before. In Indonesia, it’s also Feb 10th. I was wrong.
    Can’t wait for this CNY

      Sydney Fong responded:
      February 4, 2013 at 9:17 am

      Is okay, we can celebrate on the same time then! Cheers!

    Happy Chinese New Year « simple & gayforward said:
    February 10, 2013 at 12:36 am

    […] Fong of the blog Add Grain On Earth wrote about a fascinating Chinese New Year legend, about a mythical beast called Nian who would […]

    Raxa Collective said:
    February 24, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    So interesting…I never knew the myths behind Chinese New Year’s traditions, thanks for sharing that! So glad you enjoyed our post. If you’re a facebook user we’d love for you to “like” our page. See you there!

      Sydney Fong responded:
      February 24, 2013 at 10:52 pm

      Sure! See you too! :)

    sharonstjoan said:
    February 26, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Reblogged this on Voices and Visions.

    Rashid Faridi said:
    February 28, 2013 at 6:54 am

    Reblogged this on Rashid's Blog.

      Sydney Fong responded:
      February 28, 2013 at 1:07 pm

      Thanks! You are so kind! :)

        Rashid Faridi said:
        February 28, 2013 at 9:50 pm

        The Pleasure was mine.

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