Monday, January 27, 2014
Chinese New Year
Long ago in China there was a sea dwelling monster called the Nian. During the year it would slumber beneath the waves.
On the 1st day of the New Year however it would rise from the waves and descend on villages eating livestock and even people.
Now the tales differ depending on location, as with most things that are lost in the mists of antiquity. Our scholars researching the event have found that each is true in its own way and that the tales result from the distance and insularity of the villages. This great creature would terrorize a village until they finally drove it away before moving on to another area, often hundreds of miles away.
A very common legend is for the villagers to figure out a technique for driving it away. Sometimes it is a single young girl, other times it is the entire village coming together. One of the most famous tales involves a traveling old man or monk who comes to the village and drives the creature away.
In some of the tales that monk is none other than the monk Hongjun Laozu. In yet more the person is shrouded in mystery however he leaves the tools needed by the people to drive the Nian back.
The methods used to drive it away however all confirm each other as reasonable methods:
The Colour Red: When Hongjun Laozu tricks the Nian into clearing the surrounding country of poisonous snakes and dangerous creatures it is all part of a cunning ruse to show off his underwear. Upon stripping out of his “bad tasting” clothes Laozu is wearing red undergarments. A colour the Nian fears and will flee from.
Editor’s Note: A good way to surprise the Nian is to wait for it to be eating a colleague or other victim. Given the colour of the majority of what is in our body the Nian can only consume its prey with eyes tightly shut. Before planning this method it should be noticed that if the Nian eats the bait whole this technique can backfire.
Bright Flashes: The bright flash of fireworks exploding also causes fear in the Nian, it will flee the sight exploding gunpowder.
Loud Noises: The loud noise generated by gunpowder and fire crackers is more than the sensitive hearing of the Nian can take and it will flee.
Editor’s Note: Such unusual weaknesses can be a boon and hindrance to hunters. If one is merely seeking to drive the beasts away then this presents no difficulty. However if attempting to capture one then only the most primitive weapons and technology can be employed in hunting it. Despite the DPRCD’s Yearly hunt for the beast it has never been captured since the ancient monk’s time.
It has been theorized that the Nian will never return to a village from which it has been successfully driven away. This has been shown to be technically true; however villages visited by the Nian generally continue the fireworks, red paper, and firecrackers each year. While this works as a preventative measure it does make researchers wonder on the accuracy of the claim. Efforts to get villages to cease their celebrations as a test group have been met with a mix of staunch refusal.
In this way not only is the Chinese New Year celebrated in a bright and colourful manner, but it also keeps people safe.