News Hour > Homepage > News > 

The story of "Nian" -- Name of a monster who lived in ancient China

2010-02-14 15:51 BJT

Special Report: 2010 Spring Festival |

As Christmas is to the West, Spring Festival is to China. It's the most important festival for Chinese people the world over. The festival is also called "Nian", but not many people know that "Nian" was also the name of a monster who lived in ancient China.

Long long ago deep down in the sea, there lived a ferocious monster named Nian. The fabled creature appeared as half-dragon, half-unicorn. Legend says that on the eve of every New Year, "Nian" would descend upon the nearby village and devour the grain, the livestock and the townspeople. His favourite dish was children.

As Christmas is to the West, Spring Festival is to China. It's the most important festival for Chinese people the world over. The festival is also called 
As Christmas is to the West, Spring Festival is to China. It's the most 
important festival for Chinese people the world over. The festival is 
also called "Nian", but not many people know that "Nian" was also the 
name of a monster who lived in ancient China.

The villagers lived in fear of the monster. No one knew how to fend it off. So the villagers did the only thing they could, they hid in the mountains at the time of the demon.

One New Year's Eve, there came a stranger, to the village. He was old with a long white beard. His manner was hale and hearty. A kindly old woman warned: "Go hide somewhere! The Nian's coming! He'll eat you if he sees you. "

The old wise man answered:"Don't you worry! Let me stay in your house tonight. I have a way to tame the monster.!"

Night fell. Nian appeared, ravenous and seeking to sate his hunger in village. He approached the old woman's house,where the wise man waited. The demon stopped still as he observed the red paper hanging on the door. Then the night exploded, "Nian" was deafened by the roar of firecrackers and dazzled by their exploding lights. The house lit up suddenly and the old wise man stepped from behind the door, dressed all in red. The beast fled in terror, all the way to the sea.

When the villagers returned to their homes they found the wise man alive and unhurt. They asked him to share his secret. The man told them: "The color of red, the dazzling light and loud noise. These are the three things that will frighten away the beast."

The villagers followed the wise man's instructions. Nian never returned.

Thus, it has become a tradition among Chinese people, to hang red couplets on their doors during the Spring Festival. Streets resound to the beat of drums and the crackle of fireworks. Lanterns are fashioned and processed through the streets. And demons lurking nearby - run in fear. With the annual celebrations the people overcome Nian, or as it's said in Chinese, "Guo Nian".

Editor: Du Xiaodan | Source: