According to legend, Chinese New Year started with a fight against a mythical beast called the Nian or “Year” in Chinese. Nian would come on the first day of New Year to devour and kill animals, crops, and even the people, especially the little children. In order to protect themselves, the villagers would put food in front of their doors at the beginning of every year. They believed that after the Nian ate the food, it wouldn’t attack any more. Then one year, some people noticed that the Nian was scared away by a little child wearing red. They then thought that the Nian was afraid of the color red. From then on, every time when the New Year was about to come, the villagers would hang red lanterns and red spring scrolls on windows and doors. People also used firecrackers to frighten away the Nian. The Nian never came to the village again.
Although fireworks and firecrackers are traditional and very popular, some regions have banned them because of the increased number of fires around New Years. Various cities (e.g., Hong Kong, and Beijing ) issued bans over fireworks and firecrackers in certain areas of the city for a number of years. As a substitute, large-scale fireworks have been launched by governments in cities like Hong Kong to offer citizens the experience without the danger.
The International Chinese New Year Night Parade will be held on 14 February 2010. The theme of Hong Kong’s New Year parade, sponsored by Cathay Pacific, is the “World’s Happiest Party.”
Learn more about the parade here.