One year, on New Year's Eve, an unknown traveler entered a Chinese village. The man, from a distant land, was looking for food and a place to sleep to rest after his long journey. There was no time to provide the man with a hot plate of noodles or a cup of Chinese tea. Everyone was busy preparing to flee.
Only one person, an elderly woman, paid attention to the traveler. She decided to take him to her house and offer him shelter. While the traveler ate a large plate of steaming soup, the woman explained why the villagers were so busy today. The fear of Nian commanded them all to leave the village in a hurry.
The traveler, by now with a well-filled stomach, was incredibly grateful to the woman for her help and shelter. He decided to return the favor and share a great secret with her. In the warmth and comfort of the old woman's home, the traveler confided in the old woman and shared the age-old secret.
That evening, as the turn of the year approached, Nian arrived at the village. The monster moved desolately through the streets. With much sniffing and growling, he passed all the dark houses until he passed the old woman's house. The lights in the house were on. Nian licked off his whiskers and prepared himself for a tasty meal.