By in
| Human World on Jan 31, 2014
2014 is the year of the Horse.  Image via Pinterest.

2014 is the year of the Horse. Image via Pinterest.
This year’s Chinese New Year celebration on January 31, 2014 has already begun in Asia. It rings in the Year of the Horse. Gong Xi Fa Ca, y’all.

Over a billion people in China and millions around the world celebrate the first day of the Chinese New Year – January 31, 2014 – today. It’s the most important of Chinese holidays, kicking off a celebration that lasts for 15 days and culminates with the Lantern Festival. Each year is associated with one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac. For 2014, it’s the Year of the Horse. The celebration began yesterday in China (current time in Bejing here), but don’t let that stop you from celebrating. Gong Xi Fa Ca! That’s one of the traditional Chinese New Year greetings that means “wishing you prosperity” in Mandarin.

Many countries in Southeast Asia celebrate the Chinese New Year, including China, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. It’s also celebrated in Chinatowns and Asian homes around the world. It’s considered a time to honor deities and ancestors.

There are several variations on the mythology behind Chinese New Year celebrations. Most are based on a ugly bloodthirsty monster named Nian that would emerge on the last night of each year to destroy villages and eat people. A wise elder advised villagers to scare the monster away with loud noises. That night, they set fire to bamboo, lit fireworks, and banged their drums. The monster, afraid of the loud noises and lights, ran away to hide in its cave. In another version of the myth, an old man persuaded Nian to turn its wrath on other monsters, not the villagers. Before he was seen riding away on Nian, the old man, actually a god, advised the people to hang red paper decorations in their homes and set off firecrackers on the last night of the year to keep Nian away.

On the first day of the new year, the villagers celebrated, greeting each other with the words Guo Nian, which mean “survive the Nian.” That tradition that has continued to this day, with Guo Nian now meaning “celebrate the new year.”

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