Primary School

Reception Class Visit the Oriental Museum

Reception class children visited the Oriental Museum in Durham to learn about Ancient Egypt and China. They unearthed artefacts, discovered the story of Nian – There was a monster in ancient times with a body of a bull and the head of lion.  It was a ferocious animal that lived in the mountains and hunted for a living.  Towards the end of winter when there was nothing to eat Nian would visit the villages and attack and eat whatever it could causing the villagers to live in terror.  Over time the villagers realized that the ferocious Nian was afraid of three things: the color scarlet, fire, and noise.

Eventually, the villagers came together and agreed that when it was time for Nian’s annual visit towards the end of winter they would start a fire in front of every door, hang a scarlet painted board in front of every house, and not go to sleep but rather make noise.

One night when Nian was spotted coming down the mountain they started the fires, put up the boards painted with scarlet, and stayed up all night long making noises.  The monster came down saw and heard the ruckus, freaked out, and ran into the mountains never to return again.  The next morning everyone got up congratulated each other and had a big celebration.  The next year they repeated the ritual and it has been passed down generation to generation until today, and thus the custom of Guo Nian (过年) was established – Chinese New Year!

The children were able to dress as characters of the story and act it out for themselves as well as taking part in dragon dancing.

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