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Today is the first day of the first month Chinese Lunar New Year. Also called the spring festival, it is one of the most Chinese traditional holidays.

Legend has it that in ancient times, there was a monster called “Nian” (“year”) that would come out on the eve of every New Year to devour livestock, crops, and even villagers, especially children. To avoid the monster’s attack, people would flee to the depth of the mountains and call this day “Nian Guan” (meaning “the Pass of Nian”).

Chinese Folktale: The Legend of Nian Celebrate Chinese New Year: With Fireworks, Dragons, and Lanterns

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On one New Year’s Eve, there came an old beggar in Peach Blossom Village, where an old lady gave him some food and asked him to hide himself in the mountain to avoid the monster Nian. The old man promised that he could drive the monster away as long as he was put up for the night at the old lady’s home. Being unable to persuade the old man into hiding in the mountain, the old lady went alone.

In the middle of the night, the monster Nian dashed into the village. He trembled and cried when he saw the red paper on the door of the old lady’s house, which was brightly lit. Just as the monster reached the entrance, there came blasting sounds that prevented him from moving any further.

At that time, the old man, wearing a red robe, opened the door and the monster was scared away. Actually, the color red, firelight and blasting sounds were the things the monster feared most. After that, on every New Year’s Eve, every household would paste red couplets, let off firecrackers and light candles as well as stay up the whole night to avoid being attacked by the monster. This is how these customs came into being.

The Year of the Rabbit: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac The Year of the Snake: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac
The Year of the Rabbit: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac The Year of the Snake: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac

The Shengxiao, better known in English as the Chinese Zodiac, is a scheme that relates each year to an animal and its reputed attributes, according to a 12-year cycle. The 12 celestial animals are: Rat (or Mouse on Mongoose), Ox (or Buffalo or Bull or Cow), Tiger, Rabbit (or Hare or Cat), Dragon, Snake (or Serpent), Horse, Goat (or Sheep or Ram), Monkey, Rooster (or Hen or Cock or Chicken or Phoenix), Dog and Pig (or Boar or Hog). The animal names occasionally differ depending on the oriental country origin.

Each animal has a different personality and different characteristics. The animal is believed to be the main factor in each person’s life that gives them their traits, success, and happiness in their lifetime.

This 2011, according to Chinese zodiac, is the Year of Rabbit. The Rabbits of the Chinese Zodiac are considered timid and attractive. This Sign is extremely popular and has a wide circle of family and friends.

 the Year of Dragon  the Year of Dragon
The Year of the Dragon Chinese New Year’s Music

Rabbit’s compassionate nature leads it to be very protective of those it holds dear, but where romance is concerned, the Rabbit’s sentimentality can lead it to idealize relationships.

The sweet, sensitive Rabbit often ends up giving more of itself to a partner than is realistic or healthy. The good news is, when this Sign goes off-balance, the Rabbit’s core group of friends and its stable home life help bring it back to center.

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Related posts:
The legend of Chinese Lunar New Year
2011: the Year of Rabbit
2012: the Year of Dragon
2013: the Year of Snake
2014: the Year of Horse

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