South Shields Daily Photo

A collection of images from South Shields and the North of England

The year of the ox #4.

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Chinese New Year, Newcastle upon Tyne, 2009

Picking the green

One of the traditional customs and traditions associated with the Chinese New Year.

Lion dances take place throughout the first few days of the Chinese New Year, and bring good luck to the households or businesses which they visit. The Lion Dance itself is performed by two ‘dancers’ one at the head and one at the tail of the lion. Careful observation of the Lion Dance will show that it is in fact a very careful demonstration of stylised movements performed by skilled performers (generally from a martial arts school or acrobatic company). To enhance the ‘life’ of the lion, the eyelids, mouth and ears of the Lion’s head all move.

The dance is accompanied by loud music played on large drum, gong and cymbals. The use of firecrackers, drums, gongs and cymbals are related to the role of the lion in dispelling evil and bringing good luck – evil being afraid of loud noise

The dramatic climax of the Lion Dance is the “CaiQing” or ‘Picking the Green’. The green here refers to vegetable leaves which are tied to a piece of string which also has a red packet attached containing money. The string is hung above the door of the house or business, and the lion ‘eats’ both leaves and red packet. Lying on the floor the leaves are ‘chewed’ by the dragon while the musicians play a dramatic rolling crescendo. The lull is broken as the lion explodes back into activity while spitting out the leaves. This is a symbolic act of blessing by the lion, with the spitting out of the leaves signifying that there will be an abundance of everything in the coming year.

“PenChun” in Chinese, means the performances of lion and dragon dances on the streets to greet everyone.

Business owners usually appoint performers to perform lion dance in their premises to chase away bad spirits and bring in good spirits.

This picture was cropped from a larger image and shows one of the lions outside of the North East Chinese Association in Stowell Street. South Shields Daily Photo witnessed a lot of this on Sunday and found Stowell Street in Newcastle to have a lot of green leaves lying around!

Camera details: Pentax K100D, 28mm lens, 1/60 second, f5.6, iso 200

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Written by curly

February 12, 2009 at 12:01 am

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