In 2018, Chinese New Year falls on Friday 16 February 2018. Celebration of the festival starts on Thursday 15 February, when family members gather together for Chinese New Year Eve dinners. Traditionally, the celebration then continues for 15 days. In present days, Chinese New Year celebrations are concentrated on the eve and the first two days because those are the days declared as public holidays in most Asian countries. The seventh day of Chinese New Year is also known as 'Everybody's Birthday', the day when human beings were created. Friends and families like to meet to have a feast on this day.
In Adelaide, Chinese restaurants offer special banquet menus and invite lion dance troupes to perform at their restaurants during the Chinese New Year celebration period. These restaurants are very busy during this period so it is advisable to book a table if you wish to dine there and watch the lion dances.
Blue Lion Dance, Image by Eric Benacek (Wikimedia Commons)
Lion Dance is a form of traditional Chinese dance in which performers mimic a lion's movements in a colourful lion costume. Each 'lion' is handled by two dancers. This dance is performed during Chinese New Year and other traditional, cultural and religious festivals.
During Chinese New Year, lion dance troupes are invited to visit houses and shops of the Chinese community to perform 'cai qing' (plucking the greens), where the lion plucks auspicious green vegetables like lettuce hung on a pole or placed on a table. This dance is believed to bring good luck and fortune to the owners. The greens are tied together with a 'hong bao' (red envelope containing money). The 'lion' will 'eat the greens' and 'spit' it out during the dance, keeping the 'hong bao' which is the reward for the dance troupe. Some spectators will also give 'hong baos' to the 'lion' as it dances among them.
Below is a schedule of lion dances at some of the Chinese restaurants: