Thursday, March 5, 2015

Sheepish Chinese New Year

A few week ago, it was Chinese New Year. Everybody cracked some firecrackers, everybody danced, and everybody had fun. In a way, it was a unique holiday. Because somewhere on this blue planet that we called Earth, the holiday was celebrated for over 2 weeks. That's right. 15 days of public holiday. I don't know, that's what I heard anyway... that lucky bastard.

It may not far from the truth though, as the festival is actually really are 15 days long. Based on the Chinese lunar calendar, Chinese New Year starts on the end of last month of the Chinese calendar, which technically made it New Year's Eve, and the celebration continues on until the 15th day of the first month of the Chinese calendar, which the celebration ended with another festival called the Lantern Festival.

I'm not very familiar with the Chinese lunar calendar, or is it lunisolar calendar? All I know is that this year is the goat or sheep year. Not that I keep tab on this matter, because you know, I didn't get to have 15 days of holiday. Why can't we get 15 days off? Can somebody answer me that? I mean, I know I'm not Chinese, but.. What's wrong with a brother, wanting to celebrate this festival with another brother, from another mother? Right? No?

Ok, we getting side-tracked. I actually have nothing on this festival. Because Chinese New Year is more of a cultural festival than a religious one. So the celebration may or may not varies from region to region. In fact, around my region, Chinese New Year comes into being based on a very very old legend. So I may or may not had celebrated the festival, at all.

Story has it, that a long long time ago, at the start of every new year, some sort of beast called Nian, will come out and terrorize everyone. And by terrorize, I mean the beast will eat livestock, crops and also people. And to top that, sometime this beast will also swallow the sun, causing everything to fall into darkness for weeks, and crop won't exactly grow without a good dose of sunlight. This of course, pisses off everybody. To avoid all of these hassles and death toll, the villagers ended up appeasing Nian with food offerings.

The description on Nian was a bit unclear, some says that it looks like a snake, some say its a lion, back in my region it was predominantly believed to be a dog. But let us go with a dragon. Because Nian is represented by the lion dancers in the festival. So when you take a good look at the costumes that the lion dancer wear, you might get a different idea from the guy next to you, even though the dancers are already called the lion dancers. Well, that thing doesn't even look like a lion, not to me at least. Its a dragon, isn't it?

Conveniently, Nian have a weakness. Or should  I say, weaknesses. One of the villagers wanted to get rid of Nian, because screw that ugly mutated thing, he can't blackmail everyone forever. That's not how liberty works. So the villager was helped by a deity, who told him that Nian is afraid of loud noises and the color of red. Which was weird, because, Nian kill livestock and murder people. Isn't blood is in red color? So Nian is hemophobia?

At any rate, the villagers used drums and firecrackers to make loud noises and drove Nian away. Just on the safe side, the villagers also wears red robe and decorate their houses with red lanterns and red spring scrolls on their doors and windows. Red colors instead of using their own blood.. ok, I don't get it. Why Nian afraid of red colors? I understand why Nian would be intimidated by the loud banging and booming sounds, but why a bloodthirsty hybrid freak monster like that is afraid of.. blood red?

I suppose as the myth goes, you might as well just go on La La Land all over. It doesn't have to make sense. But its does however, proves a point. And the point is, that's why the Chinese people throw firecrackers and use red color extensively during the festival.

To chase Nian away. That guy is bad news. Or so I've heard.


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