Lion dancers ensure good fortune in San Francisco's Chinatown

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- If you hear a ruckus around San Francisco's Chinatown at the start of the Lunar New Year, there is no reason to be alarmed.

It is just part of Chinese New Year celebrations, which continues until the colorful nighttime parade on February 8, 2020.

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Teams of lion dancers go 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.

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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.



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