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Spring Festival‘s Eve
As the Chinese saying goes "xin nian tou, jiu nian wei" (beginning of New Year, end of the old year), chu xi is one of the most important occasion in Chinese culture. Chu Xi marks the end of the Lunar Year and the start of a bright new year. The Chinese word "chu" takes to mean to discard (qǜ). The term chu xi, in essence, means to discard the old and herald the new. It is celebrated as a family affair, a time of reunion and thanksgiving.
Legend of the Year Beast: Nian Shou de Chuan Shou A popular legend in relation to the origin of the Lunar New Year and one that I remember as Mum had told me as a child is about a beast called Nian Shou ( Year Beast). Nian Shou was a ferocious beast that would go hunting for its prey on the night of New Year's Eve. It was believed that Nian Shou was extremely cruel and had taken delight in devouring human flesh. It soon became a custom for a family reunion on New Year's Eve and feast extravagantly as it was their last dinner before death came upon them.
Soon enough, those who had survived from the attack of Nian Shou discovered Nian Shou's fear: the colour red, the light of fire and loud noises. To wad the beast off, on the day of the New Year's Eve, people began pasting red-paper couplets on their doors; had their home all lighted up throught the night and fire crackers were set off throughout the night.
The strategy was a triumph and the beast fled with its tail between the legs. This strategy was repeated years after years to keep away the beast. By doing so, the Chinese was able to welcome the arrival of New Year's Day with a symbolic meaning in a life renewed. On the morning of New Year's Day, greetings echoed across the town with the most popular greeting being Gōng Xǐ(Congratulations).
There is, of course, no more ferociuos beast out on the hunt today but the customs of a family reunion, a big feast, red-paper couplets, firecrackers and lights throughout the night are passed on and become prominent part of the Chinese culture.
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