Saturday, 2 February 2008

年 Nián – year

There is a legend that in ancient China there was a man-eating beast called 年, Nián. It was a ferocious creature that would appear every twelve months, in spring, and eat people.

The villagers were scared and asked the advice of a wise old man. He told the villagers that the beast was frightened of the colour red. He told them to make loud noises, bang drums and let off firecrackers to frighten the beast away.

This was how the New Year celebrations came into being. The word Nián also means “year”.

Nián is pronounced ni-yen, with a 2nd or rising tone.