In honor of Lunar New Year 2022, Curtis students were treated to a performance by lion dancers that ignited the crowd with their acrobatic moves and playful interaction.
Students screamed with delight as the lions, with winks of their fur-trimmed eyelids, snapping jaws, and swishes of their fringed tails, seemed to meet and greet each child as they made their way through the throng accompanied by drum beats and gong and cymbal crashes meant to chase away ghosts and evil spirits. The group's narrator explained that, in China, the lions dance during the celebration of Lunar New Year in order to bring luck and prosperity. The lions are actually giant puppets that are "worked" by two dancers who act in unison to create the beast, one holding the head and managing the mouth and eyes and the other bringing up the rear of the animal and moving its tail. The narrator told us that the dancers must be very strong to carry the weight of the lion costume and are often practitioners of the martial art of kung fu, which gives them the physical agility to execute the demanding jumps and moves that the lion makes.
The lion costume doesn't resemble a real lion, but rather, is a compilation of parts of several different animals, as lions were not native to China and the Chinese had seen very few real lions. According to the narrator, many aspects of the Chinese lion costume have symbolism or special meaning. Mirrors on the head, for instance, are meant to ward off evil spirits, who will flee if they catch sight of themselves. The lion's horn is the reservoir of its powers, and the red bow tied around it tells us that the lion is tame.
Red is a color associated with the Lunar New Year, and our students were invited to wear red during our celebration of this important time in the calendar of many Asian cultures. Students vied to touch the lions as they moved through the crowd and to catch the lettuce that they hurled from their mouths. Some say that the green color of lettuce symbolizes money and that the phonetics of the Chinese word for lettuce mean "Good Fortune" or "Prosperity," which is why one should try to catch it when the dragons throw it to you.
What a wonderful way to celebrate Lunar New Year for our community! Thanks go to the Yang and Kono families and Teach AAPI for bringing this spirited and colorful performance to our school, educating us about Lunar New Year, and helping us celebrate this holiday together.