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Dragon and Lion Dances : Part of Chinese Festivities and New Year Celebration

Updated on December 9, 2012


Dragon and Lion Dances : Part of Chinese Festivities and New Year Celebration

The dragon and the lion dances are the two most famous part of Chinese celebration and it is anticipated by many people attending different Chinese festivities. Lion and Dragon dances are lively, colorful and they are captivating. Come on now, learn the purposes of the dance and the message it brings. This is performed widely during different festivities and in Chinese New Years celebration in different parts of the world like Chinatown.

Dragon and lion dances are part of the Chinese cultural tradition. These traditions date back to the earliest times and it is symbolic for them, they perform these dances in numerous festivities and one of which is the New years celebration. Since New Year is the longest festivities for Chinese, we will expect that there will be a lot of dances perform in any parts of the world. This hub will explain the two dances and its relevant to the Chinese culture.


    The Dragon Dance picture courtesy of User:BrokenSphere
The Dragon Dance picture courtesy of User:BrokenSphere
Chinese New year Lion Dance
Chinese New year Lion Dance

Chinese New year Lion Dance

The Chinese Dragon dance

Lion Dance during Chinese New Year and other festivities
Lion Dance during Chinese New Year and other festivities
The Dragon Dance during Chinese New year and other festivities
The Dragon Dance during Chinese New year and other festivities


The dragon dance:

Dragon dance is a form of dance which is traditional and one of the main performance in any Chinese festivities.

In the dragon dance -- team of people carry the dragon and this is an image of the Chinese dragon on poles, and a dragon can be composed of fifty people. The dance team does perform in the same way the movements of this river spirit in a sinuous and undulating manner. The movements in a performance traditionally symbolize historical roles of dragons demonstrating power plus dignity. The dragon dance is a highlight of the Chinese new year celebrations held worldwide in different parts of the world. It has been believed that dragons are to bring good luck to many people and this is reflected in their characteristics which include great power -- dignity -- fertility -- wisdom and auspiciousness. “The appearance of a dragon is both frightening and bold but it has a benevolent disposition, and so eventually became an emblem to represent imperial authority”.


How to do the Dragon Dance

  • The dragon dance is usually performed by a professional group dancer whose objective re4ally is to bring the motionless body to have action. The dragon is a long serpent shaped body on a pole and it is assembled by joining the series of hoops on each section plus attaching the ornamental head and tail pieces at both the ends--Dragons are made of wood plus bamboo hoops on the inside and covered with a fabric --,in the modern era lighter materials -- aluminum and plastics have replaced the wood.

Chinese dragon is a mythical character in Chinese culture and they revere it.

  • Its physical form is a combination of many animals, including the horns of a stag, ears of a bull, eyes of a rabbit, claws of a tiger and the scales of a fish, all on a long serpent’s body. With these traits, it was believed that dragons were amphibious with the ability to move on land, fly through the air and swim in the sea, bestowing them roles as governors of cloud and rain in weather. Dragon shares to people a feeling of great respect, it is often called the “Sacred Dragon“. Emperors of ancient China considered themselves as the dragon and it also the emblem of Imperial Authority. It symbolizes supernatural power-- goodness-- fertility-- vigilance and dignity among others as well.


The Lion Dance

  • The lion dance is also another dance perform during the festivities, people mimicking the lion in such a way and with lions costume. Basic lion movements can be found in the martial arts of Chinese ‘kung fu”. Lion Dance is usually accompanied by drums, cymbals and gongs. This dance supposed to bring in good luck. This is performed with two dancers the other one being the head and the other one is the body. On the head of the lion is a mirror to deflect the evil spirits because they are frightened away by their own reflections.


How to do the Lion Dance

  • When the lion runs across the street, he then go around and visits other places, and it will meet the Buddha -- Laughing Buddha who shall be dressed in monk’s attire with a mask, he teases the lion with a fan (usually made of banana) and the lion in turn will jump around. The lion turn always found the houses looking for vegetables which are hung around the house looking for the red packet of money hiding at the doors of houses and business. Then, the lion eats the lettuce and the red packet plus scatters lettuce leaves to symbolize a fresh start for the new year and the spreading of good luck to everybody.


The music and movement : The Lion Dance

  • The movements and music must go hand in hand, plus the music is played by drum, gong and cymbal. Either the head of the lion signals the beginning of movement and signals the others so that there is synchronization. This is tricky as it needs you to be an expert on this one. There is a synchronized movements to be followed as well.
  • Lion dances are usually enacted to bring good luck and to ward off evil spirits--as with the beginning of the Lunar New Year and grand opening of businesses --- weddings and even red egg and ginger parties -- celebrating a newly born baby.

 There you go, now you understand the two famous Chinese dances in celebrating Chinese traditions and New year - - the Lion Dance and the Dragon dance.



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    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I have no chance to see the grand lion dance performance yet. Longing for it very much!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      dragons are my fav thing right now their so awsum !!!!!

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      10 years ago from France

      I like to see dragon dances, the colours, the vivacity of the dance and the ambiance around it are great.

    • alexandriaruthk profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from US

      thanks yena for reading this hub, you look like Asian though

    • yenajeon profile image

      Yena Williams 

      10 years ago from California

      So much fun! I'm not Chinese, but it makes me want to celebrate, great hub =)


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