State Street in downtown Media was lined with people watching and enjoying the Lion Dancers of Philadelphia Chinatown's Hung Gar Kung Fu Academy Saturday as they drummed and danced along a half mile stretch of road. The beaming faces of children and adults told the story best. It was fun to watch and watch some more as the Dancers paraded down the sidewalk, visited stores along the way and interacted with gleeful children. Cameras abounded as spectators captured a memory of the colorful Dancers.
The Chinese New Year (Year of the Rabbit ) officially begins on Feb. 3. The New Year, the most important holiday of Chinese culture, is ushered in over the two weeks preceding the first day of the new year. Each day special ceremonies are conducted to pave the way for a good new year. Media is the only suburban Philadelphia community to hold such an event, according to one of the Lion Dancers. This year's sponsor was the Media Business Authority.
Because of the unusual costumes many people think the dancers are emulating dragons, but in fact they are lions. The Chinese Lion Dance has it origins about 1,000 years ago when Lion Dancers were intended to bring prosperity and avoid harm, according to the Chinese Historical and Cultural Project Web site. Lion Dancers traditionally perform from the fourth day to the 15 day preceding the new year. The dances are an expression of joy and happiness and are intended to ward off evil spirits and to assure good luck, according to the Chinese Historical and Cultural Project. To the uninitiated the Lion Dance looks like a series of random movements, but it is actually a well choreographed dance led by the dancer in the head and the drummer who signals the dancers on the next movement, according to the Kingdom of Lions Web site.
The Rabbit is one of the ancient Chinese Zodiac signs. People born in a Year of the Rabbit are supposed to be ambitious, well-spoken and talented. They are mostly trusted and become financially well off with an inner calm that helps them avert anger. Their thinking is conservative and they are thought to be wise, according to the Chinese Historical and Cultural Project.
Our photo gallery tell the rest of the story.