Guo Nian 过年 (Surviving the monster)
Stepping out of the Steak’n Hoagie shop, where I paid for lunch with private, secure, decentralized, digital cash, I look across the parking lot to New Asia Market.
I’m reminded that the Chinese New Year begins this weekend, on Sunday Jan 22, 2023. Loads of people are stocking up on Nian huo (年货), special holiday food, drink, clothes, and gifts. I join the lunar new year rush and go in for some kimchi gyoza, bubble tea, and dorayaki. At the checkout, I can’t help but think I’d prefer to pay with Zcash.
What’s Chinese New Year all about? It’s a great story of how one crazy man freed the people from the oppression of a monster.
You see, during the Shang dynasty in China, around 3,500 years ago, there was an evil monster named Nian (年). Nian was a giant sea dragon with a lions head, sharp teeth and horns. He caused all sorts of trouble every year on New Years. He came out of the sea, onto land, and destroyed the village and attempted to eat people.
Every year, the villagers would flee to the mountains to escape the wrath of Nian.
But one New Years eve, a strange old man appeared in town. He was a beggar in rags, with a walking stick, and bright eyes.
As villagers were shuttering their doors and packing all their life’s belongings, a granny tried to warn the newcomer. She told him about the terror of the monster Nian and persuaded him to flee with the others. He kept his cool, said he had a better idea, and asked if he could stay in the woman’s house while she was away. She thought he was nuts but said okay.
That night, the monster came out of the sea and sensed a change in the atmosphere. In the past, the village was darkness, but this time, there was one house with happy noises and many bright candles lit, and red papers pasted to the windows and doors. As the beast approached the house, the old man came out the front door laughing, wearing a red gown, and bamboo fireworks cracking.
The monster Nian wanted none of that and went back into the sea.
The villagers returned the next day, surprised and in awe that the village was not destroyed. They had regained their freedom from the monster!
Every year since, the Chinese people celebrate with all the things the man did to keep Nian at bay.
If you’re facing your own Nian, whether in crypto or elsewhere, there’s no better time to stay up late, turn on all the lights, wear red clothing, visit with family and friends, laugh, have a big meal, and Guo Nian 过年 — drive the monster Nian out of your life!