chinese new year myths and legends

We’re all familiar with fairytales, legends, and myths. It’s always intriguing to see how they describe traditions that we still have in modern society now –the things we feel are normal, but are quite bizarre when we believe about it.

The tales date back to thousands of years. Here is a collection of a couple of interesting and popular Chinese myths and legends.

Chinese New Year Myths and Legends

Celebrating Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year’s Day is known as Guo Nian (过年) in Chinese, that can mean’celebrate (a new) year’ or’defeat Nian’. The personality 年 (Nián) may mean a’year’ or’the monster Nian’.

In ancient times, there was a monster named Nian (年, or Nianshou 年兽) using a long head and sharp horns. It dwelled deep in the sea throughout the year and just showed up every Chinese New Year’s Eve to eat livestock and people in nearby villages.

Therefore, on the day of New Year’s Eve, people would flee to mountains that are distant to avoid being harmed by the creature. People had lived in fear of this monster before the village was visited by an old guy with a ruddy complexion and white hair.

He refused to hide in the mountains along with the villagers, but successfully scared away the creature by pasting reddish papers on doors, burning walnut to generate a loud cracking sound (precursor to firecrackers), lighting candles in the homes, also wearing red clothes. They had been surprised to discover that the village had not been ruined when the villagers came back.

Every New Year’s Eve, after that, folks did the creature Nian never showed up along with as the old man instructed. This tradition was continued until the present time and has become a significant way to celebrate the arrival of the new year.

Giving Red Envelopes

During the Chinese New Year period, the older or the married give red envelopes to unmarried or children juniors. A red envelope can be called yasui qian (“suppressing Sui currency”). According to legend, on Chinese New Year’s Eve, aside from the monster Nian, there was a demon named Sui which came out to terrify kids while they were asleep.

It became mentally unstable and was said that the kids obtained a terrible fever, and who were touched by the demon would be too scared to shout out loud. Parents would light candles and stay up for the entire night, to keep kids safe from being hurt by Sui.

On one New Year’s Eve, at an official’s family household, the parents gave their kid eight coins to play in order to help keep him awake, in order to prevent him being hurt by the demon. Until he had been too tired to fall asleep the kid opened the package, wrapped the coins from paper, rewrapped it, and reopened it. Then the package was placed by the parents under his pillow with eight coins.

When Sui attempted to touch his head, a strong light was emitted by the eight coins and fearful the demon away. The eight coins proven to be eight fairies. After that, giving red envelopes became a way to keep kids safe and bring good luck.

Why Spring Couplets Are Pasted

It is listed that the origin of spring couplets can be dated back to 1,000 years ago when folks hung taofu (桃符, composed charms on cherry timber ) on doorways.

Legend has it there was a massive peach tree extending for at least 1,500 kilometers on a mountain in the ghost world. On the northeast of this shrub, two guards named Yulei and Shentu defended the entrance to the phantom world. They’d catch the ghosts that subsequently sent them and harmed individuals.

All ghosts were fearful of the two guards. It was believed that to hang a piece of cherry timber with an inscription of both guards’ names on doors may scare evil things away.

From the Song Dynasty (960-1279), individuals began to compose two auspicious antithetical traces on the peach wood rather than the titles of both guards. Later, the peach wood has been replaced by reddish paper, which signifies good luck and happiness. Ever since then, pasting spring couplets was a custom to welcome the new year and express wishes.

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Dumplings and Ears

Many people state that dumplings are formed such as silver and gold ingots. Others say that they seem like ears. That may be due to some myth about the goddess Nǚwā (女娲). Nǚwā has the body of a snake and is called the mother of life.

She created humans from yellowish clay. But she realized that the ears would freeze and crack off in the winter. To fix this issue, she sewed the ears in position and put the end of the thread from the people’s mouths. Later, to thank Nǚwā, folks molded the dough into the shape of ears. They then packed it with veggies and meat instead of thread.

Next time your ears are so cold you think they be glad they won’t, ‘ll drop off and eat a few dumplings!

Red Underwear Tradition

Your zodiac animal year is called your beaming year (本命年–běn mìng nián). During that whole calendar year, you are more likely to grab the attention of demons. The best way to protect yourself is to use red panties. It’s considered before turning 100 days old, babies’ souls can be removed at any given moment. So parents would give their infants a pendant.

As rebirth, the season was known Throughout the Liao Dynasty. Folks would observe their rebirth with a ceremony conducted by a priestess (or witch). It’s equally dangerous during your rebirth year. To lock on your fortune and spirit, make sure you wear underwear! (And have lots of pairs, since you need to wear them daily.) Some folks wear charms made of reddish string or jade belts shoe inserts and much more.


There are traditions and facts about Chinese New Year. Delve deeper and find out more about this historical and long-lived celebration! If you have questions, please contact us or drop us a comment below.

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