恭喜发财 (in simplified Chinese:); 恭喜發財 (traditional Chinese); Gōngxǐfācái (in pinyin); Keong hee huat chye (Hokkien) (POJ: Kiong-hí hoat-châi); Gung1 hei2 faat3 coi4 (Cantonese:); Kung Hii Fatt Choi (Hakka) which loosely translates to “Congratulations and be prosperous”, or Happy Chinese New Year to you all! The Chinese New Year aka Lunar New Year and the Spring Festival is a 15-day fesival culminating with the Lantern Festival on the 15th day.
According to Chinese legends, the beginning of the New Year started with the fight against a mythical beast called the Nian (Chinese: 年; pinyin: Nián). Nian would come on the first day of New Year to eat livestock, crops, and even villagers, especially children. To protect themselves, the villagers would put food in front of their doors at the beginning of every year. It was believed that after the Nian ate the food they prepared, it wouldn’t attack any more people.
One time, someone saw that the Nian was scared away by a little child wearing red. The villagers then understood that the Nian was afraid of red. Since then, the villagers would hang red lanterns and red spring scrolls on windows and doors. People also used firecrackers to frighten away the Nian. From then on, Nian never came to the village again.
Because it was once believed that red could scare away evil spirits and bad fortunes. many red or bright colours are commonly worn throughout the Chinese New Year.
Dragon and lion dances are common during the Chinese New Year festivities. It is believed that the loud beats of the drum and the deafening sounds of the cymbals together with the face of the dragon or lion dancing aggressively can evict bad or evil spirits.
Needless to say, as spectacular as it is to watch, the Lion Dance ceremony and get carried away with the moment, how often do we all stop and think about the artists and creators who have spent many hours putting together these fine Leontine creatures for everyone’s benefit. To all of you, may I say -大展鴻圖Dàzhǎnhóngtú – “May you realize your ambitions”
PS – I nominate creators efforts and place it under Questionable Art – The Good. (see further entries under this category).