Chinese New Year: Celebrate with firecrackers, yummy dumplings, and a sharp-toothed monster

A long time ago, there was an evil monster named Nian, who had sharp teeth and horns. Every New Year’s eve, he would come down from the mountain to terrify the local villagers. They would have to flee to avoid his ferocious attacks.

One year, the villagers met an old man. He looked like a beggar in old, torn, and dirty clothes. He said he was not afraid of Nian and had a plan.

On the next New Year’s eve, he put on brand new red clothes and set off many loud firecrackers. The monster was so afraid he fled to other mountains far away. Now, every new year the villagers would wear new clothes and light noisy firecrackers. Nian never returned.

This custom has continued to this day. Chinese New Year celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese calendar. Also known as the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, it is the most important holiday for Chinese people. During this time, people travel back home no matter how far away they might be. We put on new clothes, clean our homes and throw away old things we don’t want anymore.

My family, along with Chinese families everywhere, get together for a big New Year’s Eve dinner. Dumplings are the most common dish and my favorite. My family makes delicious dumplings, usually filled with meat. We also visit relatives and friends. If you are a child, like me, they give you red envelopes. Red envelopes are also called “lucky money,” because we can stay up with the adults until midnight. In Mandarin this get together is called Shou Sui.

The Spring Festival lasts about 15 days. Each year it is named after a different animal in the Chinese zodiac. This year it will begin on Jan. 25, 2020 and be the Year of the Rat.

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