What’s the meaning of the Chinese New Year lion dance performance? A step-by-step visual guide

The lively, noisy lion dance is a fixture during Chinese New Year celebrations in South-east Asia, with many troupes making their way to shopping malls, offices and other public spaces to perform. Having a lion grace your premises, and presenting it with red packets filled with money, is said to bring you luck for the rest of the year.

The performances are no doubt entertaining, and the lions adorable, but not many people know about the deep symbolism behind each action they do, and even the details on the lions’ costumes. Why do they eat lettuce? What should you do if the lion approaches you? Who’s inside the costume, anyway?

The Singapore Hequan Institute of Wushu and Lion Dance has put together this detailed and amusing series of illustrations to help us appreciate this ancient tradition and art form:

Illustrations courtesy of Ireny

SEE ALSO:

Why we eat pineapple tarts during Lunar New Year and the meanings behind other goodies

A guide on where to eat and what to do during Lunar New Year 2017 in Singapore

How to celebrate Lunar New Year 2017 around the world

This article was originally published on January 22, 2016.