The holiday was originally meant to scare off a monster.
Legend says that many of the components of the Chinese New Year like loud noises from drums and fireworks and the color red were used to scare off Nian, a ferocious monster, who would come out on the first day of new year to terrorize the villagers.
Billions of red envelopes are exchanged.
These bright, red envelopes contain money (new bills, not old because old bills are seen as a lazy attempt) which are gifts for loved ones. Everyone carries the envelopes with them in case they run into a loved one on the street. It’s best to accept the envelopes with both hands and to open them in private.