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Family Fun

Celebrate Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year celebrates the end of the long winter season and the beginning of spring – marking the beginning of the growing cycle and earth’s rebirth. Join the fun by creating your own lion costume and dancing in the Chinese New Year.

Chinese Lion Dance performances start on Chinese New Year’s Day and continue through the end of the festivities, this year from February 10 -25. Look for these lively, performances during street fairs as costumed dancers wind their way to the sound of drums, gongs and cymbals.

You can make your own lion costume and dance in your neighborhood, or join a communitywide celebration near you.

What is the Lion Dance?
The parading lions run along the streets to bring goodwill and luck to
everyone they meet
The Lion Troupes are usually accompanied by their “Laughing Buddha” buddy
•   He wears a mask and a robe and teases the lion with a fan to make him jump,
    roll around, lie down and do other tricks
•   Lions sometimes appear as a family, with two large “adult” lions and a
    pair of small “young lions”
•   Red head ribbons indicate males
•   Green ribbons indicate females
*   Drums, cymbals, and gongs are synchronized to the lion’s movements

The Chinese Lion Dance is often confused with the Chinese Dragon Dance
•   Lion performances are acted out by only two dancers
•   Traditionally, one person holds the head and the other the body of
    the lion inside the costume
•   Lion Dancers need to be very agile and fit because they perform
    a lot of acrobatic moves
•   Lion Troupes often represent martial art schools

Dragon Dances are performed by teams of about a dozen dancers

Make Your Lion Costume
2’x2’ cardboard box (smaller for young children)
3-5 sheets colorful construction paper
Red, orange, gold/yellow, and green water-based paint
Sparkles or glitter
Non-toxic glue
4’-6’ colorful fabric, 2’-3’ wide
2’-4’ red and green ribbons

•   Cut away all flaps on the box
•   Paint the outside of the box in bright red, green or gold and allow to dry
•   Cut two eyeholes in one side of box
•   Use a marker pen or pencil to draw eyes, ears, mouth and a large mane
    on the colorful paper
•   Cut out the shapes and glue them onto the box to create a lion’s face,
    using the cutouts as eyes
•   Allow to dry
•   Cut the colorful fabric to the appropriate length
•   Fabric should be at least as long as the distance between the back of
    the wearer’s neck and the floor
•   A long train makes it easy to have 2 people in the costume
•   Glue the fabric to the bottom back of the cardboard box
•   Decorate the fabric with bright sparkles and splashes of paint, plus
    paper cutouts of various shapes glued to the fabric
•   Glue red or green ribbon to the head

Do the Lion Dance!
•   Have individuals or pairs wear costumes
•   Pairs work as a team, with one serving as the head and the other
    holding up the fabric train
•   Recruit family members to play drums, cymbals, and gongs
•   Use pots and pans and spoons for instruments
•   Look for apps on mobile devices for music
•   Designate one person as the “Laughing Buddha” to give gentle
    instructions to the lions on where and how to move
•   Use leftover fabric to “whisk” at the lions and encourage movement
•   Lions should demonstrate agility, flexibility, and gracefulness
•   The color of the head indicates the main action to be shown
•   Red lions represent bravery
•   Green lions represent friendship and goodwill
•   Gold represents liveliness and a dynamic spirit
•   Parade up and down the street or join a local celebration

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