The Chinese Lion is a key part of the Chinese New Year celebrations. Many people mistake the Chinese Lion as a “cuter” Chinese Dragon. But they are in fact different creatures, with different symbolic meanings.
The Chinese Lion Dance
If you have ever been to Chinese New Year festivals, you will have come across a number of key Chinese New Year things – the beautiful red lantern decorations, strung from one side of the street to the other, lucky money red envelopes, lots of delicious food… and of course… the Lion Dance and drumming! In fact, when I think to our visits to China Town in London for Chinese New Year, it is the drums and dancing that come to mind straight away!
The lion dance respresents many Chinese culture and it’s people, it teaches about respect, courage, loyalty and compassion. So the chinese lion dance is an important part of the Chinese New Year celebrations.
Watching the lion dance brings good luck and good fortune to the New Year.
Part of the lion dance ritual – is for people to hang a head of lettuce into their doorway. The dancing lion tries to “catch the lettuce” and then tosses it into the crowds watching. The one who catches it gets good luck! Towards the end of the dance, the lion gives scrolls of good luck for the new year and fire crackers are lit to ward off the Nian beast.
Key difference between the Chinese Lion and Dragon
There are couple of things to look out for when crafting a Chinese Lion vs the Chinese Dragon. The Lion tends to have a “boxier” head – the dragon is often a little longer (in fact, check out this free and fun “build your own dragon printable” activity – make your dragon as LOOOOONG as you want!). The dragon of course also spouts fire. Whilst the lion is often represented with slightly furrier bits – almost like a moustache around the mouth.
The lion will often have a bigger, chunkier nose. Whilst the dragon has nostrils that flare up.
Where the dragon breaths fire.. the lion often bares it’s big mouth with many teeth (non point though!).
The bodies are also different. The dragon is much much longer. And when you see dragon dancers perform, there are often several people per costume. Whilst the lion is smaller and you will get one person at the back and a second man at the front inside the lion head. Also the traditional lion dances in a much more “cat like” way.
Dancing Lion Masks – Printables for Download
Now.. you know the difference between the Lion and Dragons… grab your printable dancing lion masks. You will need to cut eye holes, as well as cut around the mask add some elastic to hold it in place.
You have a choice of the single freebie (the coloured lion mask ready to print and cut) or the “full set” – ie both the black & white mask for coloring or printing on colored paper and the full color mask! Simply add $0 at check out for the freebie or see the nominal fee for getting both!
Whether you choose the full color mask or the color your own lion mask.. you care now ready to take part in your Chinese New Year lion dance performance!
Chinese New Years Crafts for kids of all ages – your students will love these: