Top 5 Chinese New Year Myths
Myths, legends, and stories have always been topics of great wonder and interest for both the young and the old. In Chinese tradition, myths and legends date back thousands of years ago and are still popular today. Have you ever wondered why red is considered a lucky color? Or what the basis is for the 12 Chinese Zodiac signs? In this blog post, we’ll be discussing five Chinese New Year myths and how the traditions they have made are still practiced today.
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The 12 Zodiac Signs
The order that the zodiac signs follow was said to be made by Emperor Jade, and Rat emerged first in the race due to his cunning nature. The story goes as: Rat and Cat were supposed to go together, but Cat overslept because Rat had put something in his tea the previous night. On the other hand, Rat and Ox had an agreement that they would go together. The Rat would sing while Ox would carry him. They quickly made it to the finish line, but as they were crossing over, Rat jumped down and landed in front of Ox, finishing first.
Tiger and Rabbit arrived after, followed by Dragon who took a detour to save a village from a flood. Snake arrived at the same time but was too small to be noticed immediately. Monkey, Rooster, and Dog arrived together after saving a god from another country. Pig arrived last because his house was destroyed by a wolf and he had to rebuild it first.
The myth of the 12 zodiac signs is indeed famous until today, where 2022 is celebrated as the Year of the Tiger. Wearing your zodiac sign with a red string not only wards off bad luck but is also one way to proudly represent the year you were born in. A Red String Chinese Zodiac Bracelet is not only a fashionable item; it also repels misfortune and is the perfect gift for yourself or your loved ones.
Red Underwear Tradition
Having mentioned the zodiac signs, it is said that being in your zodiac animal year or benming year (Ben Ming Nian) will mean you are extra prone to catching the attention of demons and bad spirits. One way to protect yourself is by wearing red underwear. In ancient times, specifically during the Liao dynasty, a person’s benming year was also considered as their year of rebirth – which they celebrated with a priestess or witch. The year of rebirth was considered very dangerous.
To avoid the bad luck of the benming year, one must wear red underwear as much as possible to ward off the bad spirits. However, if red underwear is limited, then protective charms that repel misfortune and attract goodness are also recommended. The Handmade Lucky Red String Aventurine Bracelet maximizes both protection and luck. The red string, as mentioned earlier, provides protective energies and wards off bad karma. The aventurine is known as a stone of opportunity and is useful in attracting positive energy for good health, luck, and fortune. This piece of jewelry will be helpful to get rid of negativity during your benming year, aside from wearing red underwear.
The Famed Dragon (Nián) on Chinese New Year
Ever wondered about the legend of the dancing dragons you see during celebrations and Chinese New Year? The story goes that an ancient monster, known as Nián, lives at the bottom of the sea and comes up once a year to devour people and animals. During this day, the villagers of the land would all escape into the mountains. On a specific year, a beggar came to the people to seek shelter but was ignored by everyone hurrying away. Only an old woman let him into her home so he promised to help and chase the monster away – he did this by decorating the homes. By midnight, Nián trod the streets but stopped short when he saw the red papers the beggar put in each home. As Nián roared in anger, firecrackers went off, and it trembled in fear – especially when it saw the beggar laughing while dressed in red. The monster ran away and the villagers realized that the color red and loud noises were the monster’s weaknesses. Since then, the people wore festive colors and used firecrackers during the New Year to ward off Nián.
While the dragon is fended off in the myth, harnessing its powers may be useful in increasing prosperity and warding off negativity, especially at home. The Prosperity Dragon Crystal Sphere – while serving as a beautiful decoration at home – harnesses the powers of the dragon as a legendary beast of wealth, power, and success (especially when placed in any source of water). This crystal ball helps activate the good fortune energies in one’s home, and in contrast with the myth, utilizes the great powers of the mighty beast.
Warding Off Evil Spirits with Poetry
If you are unfamiliar with the Chinese language then you’re probably curious about the red decorations placed on door frames of homes and establishments. These are the Spring Festival couplet poems or the chūn lián. They protect the home not only from the monster Nián but against demons who wander the human world at night and return to the underworld at dawn. Two gods guard the entrance of this underworld (which is under a giant peach tree); any demons they find harming humans during the night would be seized and fed to the tigers. Because of this, people began to carve the gods’ names into peach tablets and placed them outside their doors to scare these demons away.
Aside from these couplet poems, one can also wear protection bracelets to guard themself against these evil spirits even when going outside of the home. The Tibetan Red String Buddhist Lucky Bracelet helps by blessing its wearer with the Six True Words Mantra, bringing good luck, prosperity, and protection from negativity and harmful spirits. The Six Words Mantra attracts good fortune, whereas the red string protects the wearer from misfortune.
Calligraphy for Good Luck
In addition to the poetry banners, calligraphy is also heavily used for prosperity. The most common word written is fú which means happiness or fortune. However, it is rarely seen upright. The origin of this is said to come from the Ming dynasty, where the Emperor ordered every household to decorate by putting the fú onto their doors. On New Year’s day, soldiers were ordered to check the houses and they found one family that put the fú upside down. The Emperor ordered for the family to be punished by death but thankfully, the Empress was there. She came up with the explanation that “upside-down” is a homophone of “here” which meant that the fu or prosperity is "here". The Emperor agreed with the explanation and let the family go. To this day, people would hang the word upside down in remembrance of the good-hearted Empress.
One can also attract good fortune through the use of jewelry, specifically the Tiger’s Eye. The Tiger’s Eye Pixiu Prosperity Bracelet features both Tiger’s Eye and Pixiu for the ultimate attraction of wealth and good fortune. Tiger’s Eye is considered as the stone of prosperity and is believed to protect wealth and serve as a reminder for self-growth. Pixiu, on the other hand, is also a symbol of wealth that brings good luck to its wearer. When these two elements are combined, good fortune arrives to its wearer and at one's home.
Maximize Your Fortune and Repel Negativity
These myths are just some of the many rich stories and folklore from Chinese traditions. We at Inner Wisdom aim to guide you in understanding certain customs, origins, and why modern times still celebrate them. It is vital to learn which things to avoid and what to do to attract good fortune while also repelling negativity and evil spirits that come our way. As the Chinese New Year approaches, we wish everyone can achieve the goals we set for ourselves and receive prosperity.