Chinese Lion Dance is confused often with the Dragon Dance. Both are a very important part of traditional Chinese festivals, especially the Chinese New Year, and both are believed to bring good luck and chase away evil spirits.
The main difference between the two is that the dragon dance is performed by a team of a dozen or more dancers, while the Lion Dance is performed only with two dancers.
Dancers must be very agile because they perform a lot of acrobatic moves during function. One holds her head while the second handles the lion’s body. Assemblies that perform the Chinese Lion Dances often part of martial art schools.
Chinese performances of the Lion Dance during Chinese New Year celebrations begin New Year’s Day and continue for all the festivities. They are typically performed accompanied by the sounds of drums, gongs and cymbals or cymbals.
Lions parade through the streets carrying the good fortune to everyone they meet. The performances are held in shops, restaurants and businesses.
Leon troops are often accompanied by their “Smiling Buddha”. This guy dressed in a robe and mask, and annoys attracts the lion with a fan to make him jump, roll over, lie down, etc.
As you traverse the streets and local people on the road “feeds” the Lion giving hong paos or red envelopes with money in through your mouth. This is supposed to bring good luck and fortune and is considered a donation to the martial arts school that produces the function.
Businesses often hang from the ceiling a head of lettuce or some vegetables with red envelope inside. The Lion collects “harvest” during the dance. Normally the dancer in the back of the body must increase and sustain the dancer and together reach head lettuce. They “eat” the money and spit lettuce, spreading fresh to “spread” good luck and this is also a symbol of a “new beginning” for the new year leaves.
The Lion Dance ends with a message of good luck that unfolds and falls from the lion’s mouth and at the same time, with an explosion of fireworks scare off evil beings!