It's more than luck: Lion dancers ensure good fortune in Chinatown

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Lion dancers visit businesses in San Francisco's Chinatown to ensure they have good fortune during the new year.

If you heard a ruckus around San Francisco's Chinatown Monday afternoon, there was no reason to be alarmed.

It was just part of Chinese New Year celebrations, which continue until Saturday's colorful parade.

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Teams of lion dancers went from business to business, banging on drums and setting off firecrackers.

The custom is called cai qing, which means "plucking the greens". During this ritual, the lion enters the business and is fed some lettuce, which the lion puts in its mouth and then spits out. The lion is also given a red envelope with a reward for the lion troupe.

It is believed the lion dance brings good luck and fortune to the business. The firecrackers that are set off afterwards are intended to scare off evil spirits.

RELATED: Chinese New Year taboos and traditions

By the way, lion dancers and dragon dancers are not the same thing.

Lion dancers are usually made up of a two person team. The lion head has two small ears and a tail, while the dragon is long and needs to be carried by many people.

Click here for more stories related to the Lunar New Year.
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