Author: Mr Ken Kwok
Date: 16 January 2021
As you may be aware, the colour – red symbolises luck and prosperity; whereas black and white (which are associated with death and funerals) are avoided in Chinese tradition.
During Chinese New Year – which usually falls around late January or February in Gregorian calendar – people dress in red and are surrounded by things in red.
Why is that?
Once upon a time, there was a fierce beast living at the bottom of the sea. It occasionally went up to the shore and fed on poultries and farm animals people kept – sometimes even humans too!
The chief God in the sky was made aware of this. It immediately sent down some soldiers attempting to tackle this beast. Alas it was unsuccessful. Further reinforcement was sent and finally it was captured using objects in red (the beast is scared of this colour) and fire-crackers (it is scared of loud noises). This beast was then guarded by one of the Gods and was given the name 年 (nihn4 – in Cantonese) which means ‘year’.
Every year, this beast – ‘year’ – is allowed to enjoy freedom for a day. When it’s out and about that day, people wear red clothes and light up fire-crackers to scare off the beast. This tradition continues to be observed today.
English: ‘Happy New Year!’
Traditional Chinese characters: 新年快樂!
Cantonese Romanisation: San1 nihn4 faai3 lohk6! (‘Sun’ ‘nin’ ‘faai’ ‘lock’!)
Mandarin Pinyin: Xīn nián kuài lè!
薛彬 (2012). 春節. Hong Kong: 新雅文化事業有限公司
Activity Sheet: (Have fun!)