This year, Chinese Lunar New Year’s Day falls on February 1 and the fun starts in the last weeks of January. Here’s a look at getting the best out of Hong Kong’s favourite holiday
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Also known as Spring Festival, Chinese New Year (CNY) dates back thousands of years and there’s a major three-day holiday here in Hong Kong. This year, February 1 is the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, ushering in the Year of the Tiger, and February 1 to 3 is a public holiday. The fun starts at the end of this month.
CATCH A LION DANCE
The lion dance is one of the most important CNY traditions, and you can see it performed all over Hong Kong in the lead-up to the holidays. Accompanied by beating drums, clashing cymbals and resounding gongs, it is performed to bring prosperity and good luck for the upcoming year – and chase away evil spirits.
Two performers become the body of the lion – the one in front is the head and front limbs, the one behind is the back and hind legs. The lion head is over-sized and dragon like.
There are two distinct styles of lion dance – southern and northern. The southern lion dance originated in Guangdong, and it is the style popular in Hong Kong. The lion dancers imitate a lion’s various movements with an emphasis on actions like scratching, shaking of the body, and licking of fur. Performances are vivid and entertaining, even comical.
The northern lion dance, on the other hand, demonstrates martial arts agility. Costumes are more robust and less decorative, to allow for freedom of movement. The performer in front holding the lion’s head is often lifted by the other to make the lion stand up. Movements are gymnastic, involving rolling, wrestling, leaping, jumping and climbing.