We, Japanese, celebrate New Year the same time as the Western country and it is the 1st of January.
We do not have the Dragon Dance, but we do have our version: the Lion Dance.
Adapted from China, the shishimai (Lion dance) is often performed around the New Year by one or two lions accompanied by bamboo flutes and drums. It was performed as a prayer for household safety and a good harvest. At the end of the dance, the lion “bites” the heads of some watchers, to bring luck.
The Lion is operated by two dancers with their heads inside the lion. The lion’s mouth can be opened and closed.
In China, the Dragon Dance is much more popular as you may already know.
Dragons are of course legendary animals, but they are important to Chinese people who think of dragons as helpful, friendly creatures. They are linked to good luck, long life and wisdom. Chinese Dragons are associated with storm clouds and life-giving rain. They have special powers so they can fly in the air, swim in the sea and walk on land.
Dragon dances are performed at New Year to scare away evil spirits. During the dance the performers hold poles and raise and lower the Dragon. Sometimes one man has a ‘Pearl of Wisdom’ on a pole and he entices the Dragon to follow him to the beat of a drum, as if searching for wisdom and knowledge.
I thought it may be a little too ambitious to knit a dragon, but I tried it.
Here is my knitted dragon.
I have dragon operators.
A little boy with the pearl and a girl with a Chinese lantern.
The larger figures are about 9cm tall, and the dragon is about 30cm long, I think. I was a little worried if I could make a nice dragon, but I am happy with this one.
Have a very happy Chinese New Year!