Luck of roaring... Noise welcomes Chinese New Year

In ancient times, so the Chinese say, a terrible monster descended from the mountains on the first day of the New Year, destroying villages and crops before returning to its lair. Desperate for deliverance, the people created an even more terrifying creature, a loud, fearsome lion, and went with it to confront the monster as it approached their village.
As legend has it, the monster took one look at the wild, roaring lion and high-tailed it back up the mountain, never to be seen again.
Chinese New Year is a 15-day celebration of family unity– beginning on the first new moon of the year– honoring past and present generations. Though this year’s New Year started February 1, the Virginia Discovery Museum has decided it’s not too late to offer kids of all ages a chance to witness the power of the mythological creature that represents strength, wisdom, and good luck.
They’ve invited members of the Chinese Student Association at UVA to scare away evil spirits on the Downtown Mall on April 12 with a demonstration of the traditional Chinese Lion Dance.
“It’s part of our mission to represent cultural diversity,” says museum public programs coordinator Dana Sheridan, who organized the event. “And, personally, I like to bring things that you wouldn’t encounter everyday.”
The lion dance certainly qualifies on both accounts. CSA members will parade around in a lion costume made up of a huge stylized head with several people under a fabric body forming a long colorful tail trailing behind. And since it apparently takes noise to truly scare away evil spirits, large drums, gongs, and cymbals will be used to create a ruckus.
VDM staff will help kids make their own fearsome lion hand puppet so they can jump in and join the dance right along with the lion. And the more noise, the better.
“Maybe it will bring the museum good luck,” Sheridan says.
Let’s just hope the weather cooperates, and all that noise and excitement can stay outside.

The Chinese Lion Dance will be performed on the Downtown Mall in front of the Virginia Discovery Museum on April 12 from 2-3pm. Free. East end of the Mall. 977-1025.

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