Here is a Chinese story which explains why people celebrate Spring Festival. The story is based around a monster called the “Nian” and features a lot of typical Spring Festival things such as the color red and, of course, fireworks.

The story has a nice balance of simple and more complicated sentence structures which make it very fun to read through. See how much you can read without peaking at the pinyin, you will probably be quite surprised by the amount you can understand. There is also a voice recording of this passage being read, listen to it while following through the story. Now let’s go through this story and look at some of the vocabulary to be found within.

Key Words

春节- Spring Festival. It would be remiss not to include Spring Festival at the forefront of the key words for this text.

象征 – In the story below it is said that 春节象征一年的开始 which is to say that Spring Festival represents the start of a new year.

传统 – Traditional. 悠久的传统 would mean an age-old tradition.

兽 – Beast. For example 美女与野兽 being the title of Beauty and the Beast.

The Spring Festival Story

(Hover over the Chinese for pinyin)

春节就是农历新年,是华人最重要的传统节日。春节降临,万象更新,象征着一年的开始;标志着人生的另一个起点。

  但是中国人为什么要过春节呢?  春节的来源是什么呢?  如果宝宝问起这样的问题,作为父母的你,可能也不一定回答的上来。其实,关于中国的春节,以及春节的各种习俗,都有很多奇妙动人的神话故事,快要过年了,爸爸妈妈也可以给宝宝讲讲这些关于过年的传说。

春节的起源:

  关于“春节”的起源,有一个古老的传说。

  中国古时候有一种叫“年”的怪兽。“年”,头上长着角,非常凶猛恐怖。“年”长年居住在深山里,每到特定的一天(就是现在的除夕)才爬上岸,吞食牲畜伤害人命。因此,每到除夕这天,每个村里的人们全部逃往深山,以躲避“年”的伤害。

  有一年除夕,从村外来了个乞讨的老人。乡里一片匆忙恐慌,没有人理会他,只有村东头一位老婆婆给了老人些食物,并劝他快上山躲避“年”,那老人把胡子撩起来笑道:“婆婆若让我在家呆一夜,我一定把‘年’赶走。”老婆婆继续劝说,但是,乞讨老人笑而不语。

  半夜时分,“年”闯进村。它发现村里气氛与往年不同:村东头老婆婆家,门贴大红纸,屋内烛火通明。“年”浑身一抖,怪叫了一声。将近门口时,院内突然传来“噼里啪啦”的炸响声,“年”吓得浑身发抖,再不敢往前凑了。原来,“年”最怕红色、火光和炸响。这时,婆婆的家门打开,只见院内一位身披红袍的老人在哈哈大笑。“年”大惊失色,狼狈逃蹿了。

  第二天是正月初一,避难回来的人们见村里安然无恙,十分惊奇。这时,老婆婆才恍然大悟,赶忙向乡亲们述说了乞讨老人的许诺。这件事很快在周围村里传开了,人们都知道了驱赶“年”的办法。从此每年除夕,家家贴红对联、燃放爆竹;户户烛火通明、守更待岁。初一一大早,还要走亲串友道喜问好。

  这风俗广泛流传,成了中国民间最重要的传统节日,就是春节。

 

Difficult Translations

Let’s take a look at couple of the trickier lines of Chinese to be found in this passage.

但是中国人为什么春节呢?

While this is fairly explanatory, the 过 character is important. In this context it means “celebrate” a small example would be 过生日 which means to celebrate a birthday. Most people are aware that 过 can be a past tense indicator but in this sentence it can’t be as 要 is not usually used in this way with 过 as past tense.

The entire sentence could be translated to “But why do Chinese people celebrate Spring Festival?”

人们全部逃往深山,躲避“年”伤害

The 以 is important in this sentence and should probably be translated to “In order to”. There are a lot of ways to translate this depending upon the sentence but this probably fits best.

This could be translated to “All of the villagers hide away deep in the mountains in order to avoid the damage the Nian brings.”

Comprehension Questions

As usual, write the answers to these questions in the comments below. The first couple of questions shouldn’t pose many problems but the last two questions are a bit more demanding. Enjoy!

  1. 怪兽“年”的长相是什么样子的?它住在哪里?
  2. 乞讨老人是怎样恐吓怪兽“年”的?
  3. 根据这个传说,中国人每年怎样庆祝春节?
  4. 你所在的城市/国家有很多中国人吗?他们是怎样庆祝新年的?

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