Sunday, February 14, 2010

Day LXXVI - Nian

Firecrackers flash,
Dancing for Chinese New Year,
Beast flees from the noise.

A popular figure from Chinese folklore, legend has it that the Nian comes from under the sea or mountains to attack the villages and prey on people. Humans need not fear though, for the creature - given different characteristics depending on region and local tradition - is an easily-scared entity that will never return to bother the area again once it's been frightened. Allegedly afraid of the colour red and loud noises, the Nian can be driven away by cacophonous celebrations, firework displays and dance processions: all of which take place on Chinese New Year. Thus, New Year celebrations the world over feature a lion dance around a symbolic representation of the Nian to scare the monster away and mark 'the passing of the beast'. Even though it only takes some rhythmic kung-fu acrobatics, a few red banners and the banging of drums to send it scarpering, for its role in Chinese New Year tradition the fantastical Nian deserves tribute. Kung Hei Fat Choi!

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