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Fire, Noise, and Red! Happy New Year!


Today is the first day of the New Year, according to the Chinese lunar calendar. On the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac, it marks the beginning of the Year of the Dog. If you’re hoping to do business in China during the next couple of weeks, good luck. The country will essentially shut down as people return to their hometowns to celebrate with their families.

The Chinese word for “to celebrate the new year” is 过年 (guonian). It’s also a bit of a play on words for one of the mythical stories behind some of the key Chinese New Year activities, such as setting of fireworks, wearing new clothes, as well as the ubiquitous color red.

You see, there was this monster, named 年 (nian) who was terrorizing villagers at the lunar New Year; that is, until a wise man showed up and told them that the silly monster was afraid of fire, noise, and red. If they would use these three things, then the monster would flee and leave them alone.

I love this Chinese Buddy Songs video of the story.

Whether or not you actually use fire, noise and red to celebrate the holiday today, we at ChinaSource wish you and your family a Happy New Year!

Image credit: Firecrackers, by Danial Dionne, via Flickr.
Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is senior vice president of ChinaSource and editor of ZGBriefs. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and cross-cultural trainer for organizations and businesses engaged in China. She has also taught Chinese at the University... View Full Bio