Uncle Felix or Fifi, in red in the middle, has been in a lion dance troupe for as long as I can remember. Fifi is my dad’s cousin, so my second cousin or uncle. This would be his last year doing lion dances and his troupe would be the last performance in Chinatown so we came out to see him.
Fifi’s troupe has a lot of members organizing, performing, drumming. They all wore the same jackets.
The Chinese lion performances are a tradition that starts on New Year’s day and continue the 15 days of celebration. The parading lions go through the streets to bring good luck to everyone they meet and visit stores, restaurants, and businesses.
We watched them setup.
And stack these red wooden benches that Fifi in the lion costume would jump onto.
A Chinese Association paid to have the lion dance performance in front of their building. They strung oranges, lettuce, and red envelopes for the lion to reach for good luck. The lion would put the lettuce in its mouth and then spit it out to symbolize spreading good luck and a fresh start.
Here is a photo of the lions spitting out lettuce at the Lunar New Year Family Festival at MOCA.
There was a great crowd. I was nervous for him to jump up onto the red benches. Fifi had nerves of steel.
These would be the performing lions.
The performance started with the lions walking down the street to the front of the Chinese Association building.
The Laughing Buddha came to tease the lion with a fan and make it jump, roll, and lay down. The Buddha climbed up a pole and cut down the oranges, lettuce, and red envelopes to feed to the lion.
Then did some acrobatics for the crowd.
The lion dance performance was awesome.
We saw another performance earlier in the day and the lion was on stilts and unraveled a scroll with a message of good luck.
When I grew up fireworks were part of the lion dance performances to scare away the evil spirits. For safety reasons they are no longer part of these performances and now that I’m older, it’s somewhat unbelievable to have firecrackers going off around huge crowds of people.
I’ve seen so many lion dances and always impressed with the athleticism and skill. It’s one of my favorite parts of Chinese New Year.
The Dumpling Mama xo