One thing I have grown to look forward to at my home during Chinese New Year are the visiting lion and dragon dances. I love the festive mood brought out by the rhythmic, boisterous beat of the big drums and clangs of cymbals.
The origin of lion dance during Chinese New Year is thought to have started through a legend where a mythical beast called a Nian (meaning year in Chinese) would come and attack villagers at the same time every year. The villagers asked for the help of a great colourful lion spirit, who came and drove the Nian away with much noise. The following year, the people were left defenseless as the lion was away defending the Emperor’s Palace. The people improvised and created a false lion out of cloth and bamboo along with noisy firecrackers to drive the Nian away. This was so successful that every year since then, the lion dance is performed to frighten away evil spirits and bring luck in with the New Year.
The lion is regarded as the king of the forest and of the other animals. It has thus long been used as a symbol of power and grandeur, and believed to offer protection from evil spirits. The lion dance is now commonly used as a symbol of auspiciousness to mark key dates such as Chinese New Year or the opening of a new business. Throughout the performance, the lion will mimic various moods and demonstrate similar physical gestures allowing the Lion to look life-like. The lion dance combines art, history and kung fu moves. A group of lion dancers consists of about 10 people.
Come again next year my dear kitties!