This past weekend, Chinese New Year was celebrated in Chinatown. One of my favorite parts of the parade is all of the lion dances!
Lion dances are fun to watch, but what do they symbolize?
What is the lion dance?
The lion dance is a traditional Chinese dance, in which performers wear a lion costume and perform a dance to mimic a lion's movements. The dance is accompanied by soudns of Chinese cymbals and drums. The lion dance is typically performed around the Lunar New Year to chase away evil spirits away and bring good luck and fortune.
You can typically find lions performing the lion dance for businesses days following New Years. The lions will go down the street and stop to perform at any store that will have them. As part of the traditional dance, the lions will reach for a head of lettuce place upon a pole and tied to a red envelope. The lion will then grab the head of lettuce and spit out the lettuce, the red envelope will be a reward for the performers as they are bringing luck with their dances.
The lion is a symbol of power, courage, wisdom and good fortune. The lion costume consists of two performers, one for the head and one behind. This may seem easy to maneuver, however it is quite the opposite as it requires a lot of coordination. The dances have a lot of movement, dancing, jumping on stools and even on type ropes and pure acrobatics sometimes.
This Chinese New Year, I was fortunate enough to see a full performance and even get to pet and take a photo with a lion!