Dragon and lion dance steeped in mystery

All around the world on Feb. 10, people will be celebrating the Lunar New Year. Numerous festivities and activities will be held in various communities.

Lunar New Year, more commonly known as Chinese New Year in North America, is an important day for people who celebrate the holiday. In Asia, it is a time of the year where many connect with family. The celebrations in eastern countries can last up to 15 days with various festivities and traditions to follow.

In Calgary, the Chinese cultural centre community is busy preparing for the festivities.

Desmond Lee, the head coach of Jing Wo Martial Arts Association, teaches and choreographs the headline act for the new year celebrations — the dragon and lion dance.

“They are good luck items,” says Lee. “Suffice to say they are royal creatures to the culture.”

The lion is not native to China. It was a gift from India to the emperor and slowly became a mystical creature in the Chinese culture, says Lee.

Today the dragon and lion dance are considered the headline act at many festivities for the Lunar New Year. Lee and his students will be performing at the Chinese New Year carnival, held by the Chinese Cultural Centre in downtown Calgary.