In Chinese mythology, a Nian is a beast that lives under the sea or in the mountains.
Once each spring, on or around Chinese New Year, it comes out of hiding to attack people, especially children.
The Nian is sensitive to loud noises and is afraid of the color red. The Chinese Lion Dance is known to have originated from the legend of the Nian.
The tradition began when a Nian attacked a village. After the attack, the villagers discussed how to make the Nian leave them alone. Eventually they came up with a plan where drums, plates and empty bowls were hit and firecrackers were thrown, causing loud banging sounds that would scare off the Nian. This scared the Nian, and since that time, the Nian has not appeared in the village again.
The Nian is still believed to exist, but that it is scattered about the jungle and mountains, never to appear in front of a human again.
Editor: Xu Xinlei