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Lunar New Year
Lunar New Year
Lunar New Year is a celebration of the first moon in the lunar calendar. It is celebrated by over 1.5 billion people around the world and is a major holiday in countries such as China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Tibet and Vietnam. It is also widely celebrated by ASPA communities in Canada and the United States. Many also call the holiday Chinese New Year due to its origins dated back 3,500 years ago. There are many traditions associated with Lunar New Year and they differ depending on the culture, but for most, it is a celebration of new beginnings and good fortune. Observances involve family gatherings, traditional food and clothing, prayer and worship, pageantry, and fireworks. This is the year of the rabbit according to the Chinese zodiac. Based on Chinese astrology, the zodiac consists of 12 animals that represent characteristics of the coming year and people who are born under that sign.
What is the Chinese Lion Dance?
In Chinese culture, the lion symbolizes power, strength, wisdom, and superiority. The lion dance (mou si 舞獅 in Cantonese and wǔshī 舞狮 in Mandarin) is one of the most important traditions during Lunar New Year. Dating back to the Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD), the lion dance chases away evil spirits and brings good fortune for the new year. The dancers are typically highly skilled performers who are martial arts practitioners dancing to the beat of drums, cymbals, and gongs.
Lion Dance Symbolism
As the lion begins its dance, it will bow three times, each one representing heaven, earth and man. After the dance is over, the lion will once again bow three times.
Lettuce or other type of green produce are offered to the lion during the dance. After “eating” the lettuce, the lion will spit it out, which represents the lion spreading wealth, prosperity and good luck.
On the forehead of the lion is a mirror, or shield, which is used to repel negative energy and evil. A lion might also have a horn on its head, which is also used to fight evil.