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Hongjun Laozu (simplified Chinese: ?; traditional Chinese: ?; pinyin: ; Wade-Giles: Hung-chün Lao-tsu) lit. "Ancestor of the Great Balance" is a deity in Chinese folk religion and Taoism, teacher of the Three Pure Ones in Taoist mythology. Hongjun is a graphic variant of hungjun (; ; ; hung-chün) "primordial nature", as used in the Chinese idiom Xian you hongjun hou you tian ? "First there was Hongjun and then there was Heaven".
Daoists mythologize Hongjun Laozu as the ancestor of xian "trancendents; immortals" (Werner 1922:133-134) and use the honorific name Hongyuan Laozu (?; ?; ; Hung-yuan Lao-tsu) "Great Primal Ancestor". In Chinese creation myths, hongyuan or is a cosmological term for "the universe before the separation of heaven and earth".
Some myths about the creator Pangu (Werner 1922:128-130) refer to Hongjun Laozu as Xuanxuan Shangren (?; ; Hsüan-hsüan Shang-jen) "Mystery of Mysteries Saint" (a reference to the Daodejing 1, tr. Mair 1990:59, "Mystery or mysteries, the gate of all wonders!").
Every Chinese New Year was a time of suffering and fear for the people of China because of Nian, the great beast. One Chinese New Year's Eve, the monk, Hongjun Laozu, came to a village in China. He saw how everyone looked sad and frightened, so he went to a young man and said "Why are you so sad? It is Chinese New Year, a time for celebration." The man replied "Do you not know? Have you not heard about Nian? He comes every New Year and terrorises us, even eats us." The monk said "I will go and reason with Nian." So off he went, to find Nian.
When Hongjun Laozu came to Nian, he said "Nian, I have come to reason with you. Stop eating and terrorising the people of China." But Nian Said "Haha. You have delivered yourself to me, old man, so now I will eat you." The man replied, "Oh, but what will that prove? Eating me isn't great! Would you dare to eat the poisonous snakes on the mountains?" "Bah! What's so difficult about that?" So Nian went to the poisonous snakes and ate them up. "How is this? Am I not great?" "At the back of the mountain there are many great beasts. Can you subdue them?" So Nian went and scared all of the dangerous beasts out of the back of the mountain.
"Old man, now its time for me to eat you!" "Sure, but just wait while I take my clothes off, I will taste much better then". So the old man took his clothes off to reveal his undergarments, which were red. "OK, you can eat me now." But Nian said "Ah! a red undergarment! I dearly hate red, get out of my sight quickly." "Haha! I knew you were afraid of red!" The old man went into the town on top of Nian and said "Dear villagers, do not be afraid. Nian is most terrified of red. From now on each house must paste red on each of their doors to prevent Nian creating havoc."
After that, the people started to paste red paper on their front doors before New Year's Day.
After that incident Nian never came to the village again. Hongjun Laozu eventually captured Nian and after that, Nian retreated to a nearby mountain. The name of the mountain has long been lost over the years.