On a Chinese New Year Sunday, the most festive day of all Chiense holidays, crowds of people swarm the local China town in celebration of the New Year. Cantonese people specifically fill Cantonese tea houses to eat dim sum and watch the Lion Dance. The lion dance is traditional a dance reserved for luck and fortune as well as to ward away bad luck.
At the tea house my family and I went to, a Lion’s head dress was on display.
There are several symbols of the new year, these include the fig tree, a tangerine tree, cherry blossoms and oranges. This tea house had a fig and a tangerine tree on display.
When the lion dance begins, a duet of drums and symbols fills the restaurant with thundering booms. The beat echos like distant thunder and suddenly the lions dance begins. Each lion is dressed differently and have a unique color. Most commonly you would find a gold, white, red and black. The lions come around and collect lucky money from people while dancing from table to table. You give the lion red packets of lucky money through their mouth and the lion bows and dances for praise.
In the city streets, dozens of martial art schools will participate in the lion dance along the streets to bless local stores. Some of the better ones provide spectacular acrobatics to boot.
Here, a lion dance just completed their bringing of luck and the owner pets the lion in thanks and gives them a red envelope of lucky money.
Along the streets, a 1 foot snow storm that occurred several days earlier leave behind watery slush. Wet slushy feet wont stop the crowd from coming out though.
A lions dances and blesses a large tea house on the outside.
A second lion pops up from crowd and joins the dance.
A trio of lions dance up to this restaurant and performs a dance to ward off bad luck and welcoming in the gods of fortune.
In the background a con Edison underground unit explodes and causes a fire.
For several hours, most of Chinatown are filled with lion dances and people rustling around. Many families will retire the night feasting on New Years left overs and continue to burn incense, and bow in honor of their ancestors for several more days.