"年(Nian)" means "Year", or called "夕(xi)". A Chinese mythology monster looks like a horned lion. 【Detailed description if you are interested in：wiki en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nian
“除夕（Chu Xi）” means "New Year's Eve". But literally it means "get rid of Xi".
Then you roughly know the story. When most people lose the New Year spirit, Holiday just one eating and drinking day, this might be a chance to brought back to its original meaning?
2014 Spring Festival on January 31. So this year's Chinese New Year's Eve is January 30.
You will not refuse another Holiday of eating and drinking, right?