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Legend of Spring Festival

http://www.chinese.cn 09:16, January 13, 2011 Confucius Institute Online

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The monster Year

The monster Year 
The Spring Festival is the most important and biggest festival in China. To the Chinese people it is as important as Christmas to people in the West. It is the first day of the lunar calendar and usually occurs somewhere between January 30 and February 20, heralding the beginning of spring, thus it is known as Spring Festival. This traditional festival is also a festival of reunion, thus no matter how far away people are from their home, they would try their best to get back home to have the Reunion Dinner.

The Chinese meaning of this festival is Guo Nian. Guo means pass over and Nian means year. The origin of the Chinese New Year Festival can be traced back thousands of years through a continually evolving series of colorful legends and traditions. According to one of the most famous legends, in ancient China there lived a monster named Year who, with a horn on the head, was extremely ferocious. Year lived deep at the bottom of the sea all the year round and climbed up to the shore only on New Year's Eve to devour the cattle and kill people's lives.

Thereupon on the day of every New Year's Eve people from all villages would flee, bringing along the old and the young, to the remote mountains so as to avoid the calamity caused by the monster of Year.

On the day of that New Year's Eve the people of Peach Blossom village were bringing along the old and the young to take flight when there came from outside the village an old beggar. With a stick in his hand and a bag hanging upon his arm, he had eyes twinkling like stars and graceful beard as white as silver.

Seized with panic, the villagers were in a great hurry to run away. Some were closing the windows and locking the doors, some were packing, and others were urging the cattle and driving the sheep. At a time when the people were shouting and the horses were neighing no one was in the mood to care for the beggar.

Only a grandmother living in the east end of the village gave the old man some food and advised him to flee to the mountains to avoid the Year monster. But the old man stroked his beard and said with a smile, "If you allow me to stay at your home for the night, I'm sure to drive away the monster Year."

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