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年的故事 The Story of Beast Nian (Beginner)

Feb. 8, 2010

年的故事 (Nián de gùshi) The Story of the Beast Nian

 

HSK 3 quiz

 

Key Learning Points (Preview):

红色 (hóngsè):n red

 

故事 (gùshi):n story 

 

问好 (wènhǎo):v to send one' regards to

 

Culture notes: "过春节 (guò chūnjié) celebrate Spring Festival" can also be said "过年 (guònián) celebrate the Chinese New Year ." Just as the name "春节 (chūnjié)" suggests, spring will come after Spring Festival. But why did ancient Chinese use "过春节 (guò chūnjié) celebrate Spring Festival" and "过年 (guònián) celebrate the Chinese New Year" together when both of them conveyed the same meaning? In fact, there is an interesting "故事 (gùshi) story" behind this phenomenon. It is said that in ancient times there lived an enormous, ferocious, violent, single-horned "野兽 (yěshòu) beast" called Nian, that was born with sharp teeth and a long, powerful tail. It spent most of the year in the deep ocean, but an the lunar year end, it came out to the villages, destroyed all the crops, and swallowed people and other living things whole. People were so terrified that at the end of every year, they would flee to remote mountains to avoid suffering from the disaster.  It was the last day of the year (later called Spring Festival Eve), when an old man walked into the village. All the other villagers were so busy getting ready for their escape that no one paid attention to the newcomer. The old man walked slowly along the street, looked around in satisfaction and showed no intent of running away. A kind granny saw the man and tried persuading him to flee with her. But the newcomer insisted on staying and asked to take refuge in the granny's house, saying, "If you let me stay, I can assure you that Nian the "野兽 (yěshòu) beast" Nian will never come again." Shaking her head with regret, the granny allowed him to stay and fled away with other villagers. Just as always Nian ran into the village after mid-night. But he found something was different. "红色 (hóngsè) red" paper was pasted on the gate of the granny's house and the room was lit with "烛火 (zhú huǒ) candlelight," making it as bright as daytime. Glaring at granny's house, Nian the "野兽 (yěshòu) beast" ran toward it with great anger. But when the creature was almost at the door, the cracking sound of "烟花 (yānhuā) firecrackers" came from inside the house. The "野兽 (yěshòu) beast" trembled all over in great fear when it heard the sound. Though the beast was fierce and cruel, it was extremely afraid of the color "红色 (hóngsè) red," "烛火 (zhú huǒ) candlelight" and the sound of "烟花 (yānhuā) firecrackers." At this time, the old man was wearing "红色 (hóngsè) red" clothes from top to bottom and came out of the house laughing fearlessly at the beast. Turning pale with fear, the wild beast fled in helter-skelter. Frightened villagers returned to their homes on the very next day (later called Chinese New Year's Day) and to everyone's biggest surprise, the old man was still alive. After discovering the secret of beating off the beast, villagers began wearing new clothes and "问好 (wènhǎo) sending regards to" neighbors, friends and relatives to congratulate them for escaping the disaster. The next year, every family pasted "红色 (hóngsè) red" paper on their gates, set off  "烟花 (yānhuā) firecrackers" and put "烛火 (zhú huǒ) candlelight" in "红色 (hóngsè) red" "灯笼 (dēnglong) lanterns" to light their rooms on Spring Festival Eve. On Chinese New Year's Day, everyone puts on their best clothes and "问好 (wènhǎo) sends regards to" others. Gradually, these activities became custom and were passed down from generation to generation. Nowadays, for all Chinese people and most of the Chinese overseas, Spring Festival has become the most important festival of the year. No matter how far a person may be from his or her home, they try their best to reunite with family members during this traditional festival.

Key Learning Points:

红色 (hóngsè): n red The character "红 (hóng)" means red, the character "色 ()" means color.

 

Example:

A:  Wǒ   fāxiàn zhōngguórén zài guònián de shíhou dōu xǐhuan chuān hóngsè de yīfu.   
    我      发现     中国人         在    过年     的   时候    都   喜欢     穿      红色    的 衣服。
    I found that Chinese people love to wear red clothes during the Chinese New Year.

 

B:   Duì ya! Yīnwèi hóngsè zài zhōngguó wénhuà lǐxiàngzhēng zhe xìngyùn.
      对 呀!  因为   红色     在     中国       文化   里     象征         着  幸运。
      You are right! Red stands for luck in Chinese culture.

 

故事 (gùshi): n story The character "故 ()" means old and "事 (shì)" means matter.

 

Example:

A:  Wǒ tīngshuō nián de gùshi hé zhōngguó de xīnnián yǒuguān, nǐ néng jiǎng gěi wǒ tīng ma?
      我   听说       年   的    故事 和 中国        的     新年    有关,   你    能    讲      给   我 听  吗?
     I heard that the story about Nian–the beast has something to do with Chinese New Year. Could you tell me about it?

 

B:  Dāngrán kěyǐ.
     当然       可以。
     Yes, of course.

 

问好 (wènhǎo): n to send one's regards to

 

The character "问 (wèn)" means to ask, "好 (hǎo)" means good or well.

Example:

Chūnjié dào le, qǐng dài wǒ xiàng nǐde jiārén wènhǎo.
春节     到 了,   请   代 我    向   你的   家人    问好。
Chinese New Year is coming. Please send my best wishes to your family.

 

生词 (shēngcí) Vocabulary

 

过年 (guònián):v celebrate the Chinese New Year

 

野兽 (yěshòu):n beast

 

烟花 (yānhuā):n firecrackers

 

烛火 (zhú huǒ):n candlelight

 

灯笼 (dēnglong):n lantern

 

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Comments

I’ve been taking Chinese from another company, and I found your site to supplement their lessons.

I really like that you seem to group the pinyin “syllables” the way native speakers would. I have a hard time knowing how to group things when speaking, so hearing how the smaller parts go into phrases and then sentences in this post and others has been truly instructive.

Hello Chinese,

Make what into Chinese?

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