The Origin of Chinese Spring Festival - New Year - The Legend "short version"

Each year, in late winter, Xi, a ferocious animal with the body of tiger, the head of lion and the horns of ox would come to China and help himself to the sparse remains of winter food.  The people were very afraid of him because he was very big and strong, and very hungry.  

Chun, a peasant boy decided he would rid his country of Xi  and save his people from starvation.   He tried many times and many ways but Xi would not leave the country before he had eaten his fill.

One day, Chun's mother was cooking and, as usual, she was using bamboo stalks as fuel for the fire...As the stalks burned, they made sparks and cracking sounds.  Chun had always been afraid to be around the fire when this was happening.  He though about this...If he was afraid, maybe Xi would also be afraid of the cracking sounds and the sparks...

That year around the time of Xi's visit, Chun organized a very large bonfire to be built, using a lot of bamboo.   At midnight, when Xi appeared, the bonfire was lit.  There were many, many sparks....and loud cracking sounds.  Chun was correct.  Xi was frightened and ran off leaving the farmers and their families with food for the remains of the winter.

The Bonfire became a yearly ritual to keep Xi away.  When Fire-cracks were invented...The huge bonfire was no longer needed.  But it takes a lot of fire-crackers to produce enough noise and sparks to keep the food stores safe from Xi.   

This legend was told by Teacher Cui, fifth generation Tai Chi master, on the occasion of his visit to Mei Zhong Tai Chi school in Atlanta, during a dinner party given in his honor by Leonora Weaver.  Pin translated the story into English as it was being told in Chinese.  

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