The lion dance is an integral part of celebrations during Chinese New Year. The appearance of the lion is considered an auspicious event and is roundly welcome by shop-keepers. The performance of the lion symbolizes success in getting food and wealth, thus associating it with prosperity and good tidings.

It is customary for lion dance groups to be invited by restaurants to visit them as to symbolically bring good luck and prosperity as well as entertain their customers. The restaurant owners and shop keepers will place money in a red envelope tied to a bunch of lettuce, called the “green” at the door for the lion. The “green” represents food for the lion. The act of the lion getting the lettuce and the red packet is called “cai ching”, which literally means “plucking the green”. The street parade where the lion plucks the greens from the shops is called (街採青).

The lion dance is traditionally a very noisy affair. In addition to the drums, cymbals and gongs that accompany the lion’s movements, red fire crackers are set off. The colour red represents life and energy. Noise represents the sounds of life and a busy, prospering business and a healthy lively household.

Welcome to the Year of the Monkey!

Today marks New Years Day in the Chinese calendar.  The Year of the Monkey runs from February 8 until January 27, 2017

If you were born in 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004 then you are under the monkey zodiac.  If you are born in 2016 this will make you a red fire monkey – the colour red is auspicious and considered very lucky, while fire is one of the five Taoist elements, alongside water, earth, wood and metal and add complexity to your zodiac.

The year of the monkey is actually considered to be unlucky for those born under the sign of the monkey but it is believed you can turn this around by seeking the blessing of the lucky stars!