The Chinese New Year Lion Dance

Here at Yuen’s Fresh Market, we celebrated the Chinese New Year this weekend just gone with the Lion Dance.

It’s a traditional dance in Chinese and other Asian cultures in which performers mimic a lion’s movements in a lion costume to bring good luck and fortune. As you can see from our photos, it’s also great fun!

The ‘lion’ is operated by two dancers, one of whom operates the head while the other forms the rear end of the lion, all to a vigorous drum beat.

The dance is related to kung fu so the dancers are usually members of the local kung fu martial arts club or school. In general, it is regarded that a school with a capable troupe with many ‘lions’ demonstrates the success of the school.

During the Chinese New Year, the lion dance troupes visit the houses and shops of the Asian community to perform the traditional custom of plucking the greens and bringing good luck and fortune to the home or business. The greens are tied together with a red envelope containing money. The lion eats the green and spits it out but keeps the envelope – a reward for the lion troupe.

Many years ago, the lettuce was hung high above the ground and only a well-trained martial artist could reach it while dancing with a heavy lion head, sometimes climbing a human pyramid formed by fellow students of the school.