Spring Festival Traditions

Firework and firecracker

2014-01-15 11:52:29

A Chinese New Year celebration would not be complete without fireworks. In China firework are set off to express joy and happiness during the Spring Festival. It is meant to say goodbye to the old and welcome the new.

Well-made firecrackers are usually packed with red paper. When they explode, scraps of red paper are scattered all over the floor, which means good luck for the coming year. For the merchants, it is important set off firecrackers for as long as possible, which means they will earn a lot of money in the New Year.

The history of fireworks goes back thousands of years. It is believed that the first firecrackers were likely chunks of green bamboo that someone may have thrown onto a fire when people didn't have paper or powder. The rods sizzled and blackened, and after a while, unexpectedly exploded. The noise is supposed to scare away all evil spirits and misfortunes and ensure happiness and prosperity. The Chinese name for firecracker is "pao chuk", which means "bursting bamboo".

After powder was invented in the Tang Dynasty, people began to make fireworks by cramming gunpowder into bamboo tubes to produce greater sounds. In the Song Dynasty, bamboo tubes were replaced with paper coverings. Later, a new kind of firecracker was invented which was made by linking many smaller firecrackers together with a powder train. This new firecracker could go off for a long time.

There is a legend about why fireworks are used. In ancient times, Chinese ancestors were threatened by a ferocious animal called 'Nian' (year). In winter when food was scarce in the mountains, "Nian" would come to the villages to eat human beings and livestock. Nian was only afraid of three things: the color red, fire and sound. Therefore, people fire firecrackers and fireworks to scare away Nian every year and stay awake throughout the night.

Another legend is about a four-horned monster called Shan Sao. It came to humans at the end of the year and brought plague. However, it is afraid of sound and light,so people set off fireworks in order to drive it away. And it worked.

(Source: CNTV.cn/chinaculture.org)

Editor:Zhang Yi