The Art of the Chinese New Year Lion Dance

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!

Chinese New Year Lion

Chinese New Year Traditions

Happy Chinese New Year! 

Chinese New Year Desserts

2018 is the Year of the Dog!

Honest and loyal, those born in the year of the dogs are the truest friends and most reliable partner.  Dogs include those born in: 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018

Chinese New Year is always a fun holiday and filled with lots of celebrations, traditions and the food of course!

Here is a quick 101 on all you need to know about Chinese New Year.

Chinese New Year Greetings

  • 新年快乐 - Happy New Year
  • 恭贺新禧 - Happiness & Prosperity
  • 身体健康 - Enjoy good health


    • Red Envelopes
      Red envelopes with "lucky money" are given to younger generations
    • End of Year Dinner
      While New Years Day is when the holiday technically begins, having a bountiful dinner the night before is just as important.  You should have leftovers to bring into the new year as a sign that you will not go hungry into the new year.
    • Tangerines & Oranges
      Tangerines and oranges are displayed everywhere and given to friends and family.  Tangerines represent wealth and oranges are a popular symbol of good luck
    • Kick off the year with something SWEET
      ou should have a piece of candy or something sweet to begin the new year, it will show you will have a sweet year
    • Hair Cut
      You should get your hair cute before the new year, but should absolutely NOT get your hair cut on the day of or during the 2 weeks following New Year Day
    • Showers
      Do not shower Chinese New Year Day, it is believed that you will wash away your luck. If you are really courageous, it is suggested you do not shower for 8 days (I will not be taking part in that part)


    Sesame Ball Cookies

    There are a lot of traditional foods, here are some of the more traditional and my favorites

    • Fa Gao
      Cakes are supposed to bring you good fortune (it also looks like a fortune cookie)
    • Sesame Ball Cookies
      Cookies are supposed to bring you laughter into the new year and are symbols of family reunions
    • Nian Gao
      Cake will bring sweetness into your life, asthe cake is very sweet

    I could go on and on, but these are just a few of the traditions of Chinese New Year.  

    Let me know some of your traditions for the new year in the comments!