Lunar New Year: The Dragon Arrives, But Why the Red Clothes, Firecrackers, and the Nian Story?

Lunar New Year: The Dragon Arrives, But Why the Red Clothes, Firecrackers, and the Nian Story?

On February 10, people from Asia, no matter where they are in the world, are having family get-togethers, setting off fireworks, and joining festivals to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

This day, often referred to as the Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival, is a time of joy and celebration that lasts for several days in many Asian countries.

There are many folk tales associated with this day, adding a sense of mystery and allure.

Different cultures have different names for it, like Tet in Vietnam and Seollal in Korea.

In the Chinese zodiac, 2024 is the year of the dragon. The dragon, a key symbol in Chinese culture, stands for energy, power, and luck, among other positive traits.

The Lunar New Year is marked by the change of the zodiac animal, signifying the start of a new year.

The celebrations start with the first new moon on the lunar calendar and end on the first full moon, 15 days later. Because the lunar calendar is based on the moon’s cycles, the date of the holiday changes every year, falling between mid-January and late February.

Lunar New Year celebrations. Time Out/File

What are some beliefs and customs of the Lunar New Year?

There are many folk tales associated with this day, but the story of “Nian” is one of the most fascinating.

As per the tale, Nian was a scary sea creature with horns and sharp teeth. Every New Year, it would leave the water, go to land, and attack a nearby village.

One time, when the day was approaching, all the villagers hid, but one old man decided to stay outside.

To everyone’s surprise, the old man and the village were completely unharmed.

The man managed to scare off the creature using red clothes and lanterns, and by setting off firecrackers.

That’s why people wear red, hang up red banners, and light fireworks during the Lunar New Year—traditions that are still practiced today.

Chinese New Year celebrations with a dragon. Image Credit: Voa News/File

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