The Lunar New Year was off to a roaring start at the Santa Clara City Library Sunday, as a local nonprofit, The Far Fast Dragon Lion Dance Association, Inc. performed the traditional lion dance for a crowd of children and families.
The Lunar New Year, which falls on Sunday, Feb. 10 this year, marks the beginning of the Year of the Snake in Chinese culture. Many in the Asian community will recognize the auspicious day with big feasts, family celebrations, gifts, fireworks and, yes, lion dances. Lions, according to the association, came from India to China as gifts to the emperor. The peasants heard many myths about these creatures and used to tell stories imagining what lions looked like. They dreamed up mythical creatures that looked like a combination of a lion, a dragon, a bird and a fish. They created costumes in the creatures’ image and used them to scare away evil spirits with animated dancing and loud music.
Today, people in Asian countries and expatriates all over the world watch these dances to celebrate the lunar new year.
The Far Fast Dragon Lion Dance Association, a San Jose-based nonprofit, began as a youth group and dance troupe in August 2000. Members wanted to embrace Asian culture in the Bay Area. The group claims to be the first local group to teach lion dancing to women — it’s a tradition typically reserved for men.