The official line explaining why the Panda Express chain is giving out free food this coming Monday for Chinese New Year reads thusly:
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"The Chinese New Year's Eve feast features ingredients that carry special symbolic meaning. Firecracker Chicken Breast(TM) is created with chicken because it represents prosperity and happiness, while firecrackers are a traditional part of New Year's celebrations -- according to Chinese folklore, Nian, a man-eating beast came into towns in search of people to feast upon. People used bright red decorations and firecrackers to scare Nian away to have a safe new year."