Lion dance is a form of traditional dance in Chinese culture, in which performers mimic a lion's movements in a lion costume. Lion dance is operated by two people, the performers' faces are covered and the basic lion dance fundamental movements can be found in most Chinese martial arts.
The story of lion dance goes like this: once upon a time, a monk had a dream in which there were many sorrows and evils plaguing the land. the monk prayed and asked the gods how he could prevent these evils from occuring. the gods told him that a lion would protect them and fight back the evils. the Chinese people had never see a lion before, but had heard stories that the lion was the king of all the other animals, so the monk combined all the lucky or magical animals he could think of and so made a lion.
If you look closely at any lion, you can see a red sash tied on its horn. it is told that the lion got too arrogant and told the gods that he was more powerful than all of them combined. this of coutse cause the gods to get very angry, so as punishments they chopped off his horn. and told him to fight off a thousand evils without his power. the lion of course couldn't and people were dying because the lion couldn't protect them from the evils. the Goddess of Mercy felt bad for him so she tied his horn back on with a red sash.
During Chinese New Year, lion dancer troupes from the Chinese martial art schoold or Chinese guild and association will visit the houses and shops of the Chinese community to perform the traditional custom of 'cai ching', literally means 'plucking the greens', a quest by the lion to pluck the auspicious green normally 'vegetables' like lettuce which in Chinese call 'cai' that sound like 'cai' (fortune) and auspicious fruit like oranges tied to a "Red Envelope' containing money; either hang highly or just put on a table in front of the premises. the 'lion' will dance and approach the 'green' and 'red envelope' like a curious cat, to 'eat the green' and 'spit' it out leave it in a nice arrangement, like a auspicious character but keep the 'red envelope'. the lion dance is believe to bring good luck and fortune to the business and the troupe is rewarded with the 'red envelope'
Here are some photos i took when the lion dance at my school: