The Chinese legend of the Nian.
In Chinese mythology Nian was a ferocious monster with sharp teeth and horns. People were so afraid of him that they would leave their village always right before the New Year to hide in the mountains.
One year, as villagers were preparing to leave to escape the monster, a wise old man dressed as a beggar came into the town. At first, nobody paid attention to him, expect for one woman who was so kind to give him food. He asked to stay at her house and would, in return, scare the monster away. In her hurry to leave before Nian destroyed the village, she agreed to let him stay at the house and then left with the rest of the villagers.
When the villagers all returned the next day, they found their houses untouched. Looking at her house, the woman saw red banners in her windows, burned bamboo in the yard and lanterns in the windows. The old man had frightened Nian as he had promised, with fire, the color red and loud noises.
Up for discussion
Why do you think so many legends are about monsters and beasts?
The Chinese culture is considered to be very superstitious. All aspects of life-- from how you build and decorate your house, to which numbers to avoid, which foods to eat, to rituals -- all are believed to bring good luck and prosperity.
The New Year celebrations involve many of those rituals and foods, like cleaning your house the day before to brush out evil spirits, to wearing red, to giving out red envelopes with small amounts of money or eating long noodles for a long life.