Later on in February, many people across the world will be celebrating Chinese New Year. Unlike our New Year’s Day, Chinese New Year can fall on any day between late January to early February. Each year is given an animal that is associated with that cycle. For example, 2018 is the Year of the Dog. The animals are switched on a twelve year rotation. One of the main reasons this holiday is celebrated is to look forward to the new year and try to get as much good luck as possible while getting rid of any bad luck from last year.
There are many myths surrounding Chinese New Year and the traditions held in the holiday. One story discusses why the 12 animals associated with each year were chosen. The myth tells how the Jade Emperor needed to choose 12 animals to be his palace guards. The cat and rat were going to go together to the palace, but the rat forgot to wake him up the next morning, so the cat never got to the palace. Since the rat rode on the ox to the palace, he got off in front of him and became the first animal, with the ox in second. After the ox, the tiger, rabbit, and dragon came. The rabbit raced the dragon to see who would go after tiger, and the rabbit won. After them, it was the snake, horse, goat, monkey, and rooster. The dog got angry at the rabbit and tried to bite him, but this ended up making the King send him back, and is also why he didn’t get ahead of the other animals. After the dog, the final animal, which was the pig, showed up.
Another myth explains why the color red became popular and commonly seen and worn by people during the holiday. The myth was about a monster called the Nian which came out of the sea once a year to terrorize the village people. The people would either hide inside their houses or go to the mountains to hide. But one time, a beggar was trying to find a house to hide in, and someone let him into their house. The beggar said that he would try to scare the monster away and started to decorate the exterior of the house in red. When the Nian came, he was angered when he saw the house, and when he heard the firecrackers going off, he was scared off. The people started to celebrate by wearing and decorating their houses in red.
Chinese New Year is a very mysterious but exciting holiday, and has a lot of historical myths that try to explain the different events that take place during the holiday. The holiday can be very fun if you can understand the different aspects of it.