The Chinese New Year or “Spring Festival” was celebrated from the reign of Emperor Huang Di 黄帝 (The Yellow Emperor) in 2697 BC. Legends told of a mythical beast called the Nian or Year 年 which would come to devour livestock, crops and to prey on human. To appease Nian, the villagers would put food in front of their doors with the hope that the beast would be filled and not attack again. One day, it was observed that Nian was scared away by a young child wearing red. Hence, the villagers would hang red lanterns and spring scrolls outside their houses and popped firecrackers to frighten Nain away. It was believed that an ancient Taoist monk, Hongjun Laozu 鸿钧老祖, later tamed Nian, used it as his mount and rode away never to return. Celebration of the new year is called guo nian 過年, meaning the “passing of the beast”.
Traditional CNY songs:
CNY songs by Rita Chao & Sakura Teng: