THE STORY OF NIAN ~ A traditional story of the origin of the Chinese New Year

Chinese music. Enter narrator, villagers and old auntie.

Narrator: Once upon a time in China, there was a monster called Nian, which means Year. Nian lived in the ocean. Every New Year’s Eve at midnight, Year appeared from the sea followed by huge waves. The monster was so big and mean that wherever it went, there was a flood. So every year, people who lived along the coast moved to higher grounds.

Villager 1: Ni hao ma? (How are you?)

Villager 2: Wo hen hao. Xie xie. (I’m fine, thank you.)

Villager 3: Ah! Jin tian zhen leng a! (Oh, today is such a cold day!)

Old Auntie: Nian Kuai lai la, ni zou ba! (Nian is coming soon. You’d better run!)

Villagers 1,2, and 3 run to hide behind house #1.
Children enter, play, and sing a jump rope jingle.

Children: Yi, Yi, Yi…. Da gong ji…. Yi, er, san, si, wu, liu, qi…. Qi, liu, wu, si, san, er, yi…. (One, one, one…. One big rooster….one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one)

Old Auntie: Nian Kuai Lai la, ni zou ba! (Nian is coming soon, you’d better go!)

The children run to hide behind house #2.

Narrator: On New Year’s Day, an old beggar came to the village, begging for food. The old woman told him to run away from Nian, but he wasn’t afraid. He said he knew how to scare Nian away. When night came, he wore a red cloak and made loud noises with two meat cleavers. Nian was so frightened by the red color and noises that it returned to the ocean. That is why to this day, Chinese people light firecrackers and hang red scrolls on their houses during the New Year.

Old Beggar: You leng you e. Lao Po po, xing xing hao ba. (I’m cold and hungry. Old auntie, have mercy on me.)

Old Auntie: Nian Lai la, ni zou ba! (Nian is coming, you’d better run!)

Old Beggar: Wo bu pa, wo deng ta. (I’m not afraid. I’ll wait for it to come.)

Old beggar puts on a red cloak and hangs red scrolls on the door of house #3.
Nian blows down house #1 and the villagers run away. Nian blows down house #2, and the children run away. Nian moves towards the old beggar, but he stands firm and clangs two big knives in the air. Nian is frightened and crawls away.

Villagers, children, and Old Auntie: Guo Nian La! Guo Nian La! (Nian is gone, the year is gone!)

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