Shou Sui is one of the traditional customs practiced on Chinese New Year’s Eve. On this very special day, all family members get together and stay up late to see the New Year in. The first part “Shou” means watching and waiting in English and “Sui” also known as “Nian” stands for year.
According to folklore, in ancient times, there used to be a fierce beast named “Nian”. It lived in a deep forest and ate everything alive from hard-working ants to all manner of human beings. It killed countless livestock and inflicted a great damage and suffering to people’s lives. The people were terrified of it. Carefully studying its habits, people discovered that Nian’s attack followed the rule that it only appeared once every 365 days, that it was at night, and that it vanished in the next morning. In following this rule, the people quickly figured out the date of Nian’s attacks and schemed a series of actions to protect themselves from Nian.
On that particular night, every household prepared food in advance, and locked all the livestock away. After locking and securing all the doors, family members would hide quietly in the room and have supper (since people couldn’t predict their fate on that dangerous night, they prepared themselves an extremely hearty supper)!
However, after supper, with their bellies full, nobody dared to sleep.Instead, they stayed up late, chatting to embolden themselves. Gradually, as the folklore of Nian diminished, the custom of staying up late on Chinese New Year’s Eve and was passed down as an indispensible part of Chinese tradition.