Nian In Chinese mythology, Nian (traditional Chinese: 年獸; simplified Chinese: 年兽; pinyin: nián shòu) is a beast that comes in spring. The Chinese word for year is based on the arrival of this beast. A phrase for celebrating Chinese New Year, guo nian (traditional Chinese: 過年; simplified Chinese: 过年; pinyin: guò nián) means the passing of the beast. It is believed that it lives under the sea. It came to attack people at the same time of the year. The Chinese tradition of decorating in red, burning firecrackers, and the lion dance with loud drums and gongs was to scare the beast away. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nian%2C_the_beast