Chinse New Year kicks off this January 25th; this year being the Year of the Rat.
According to myth, Chinese New Year started when an old man, Yanhuang, proclaimed he would protect a village against a mythical beast named Nian. The Nian would eat villagers, especially children, in the middle of the night. Yanhuang set off firecrackers and put up red papers and to the relief of the villagers, the Nian did not return.
The villagers assumed that the old man was a deity who had come to save them.
Now, Chinese New Year is celebrated with family at an annual reunion meal, similar to Thanksgiving supper in the US. After dinner, many go to local temples to pray for a prosperous year ahead and then at midnight, firecrackers and fireworks are set loose.