As a little girl, Joey Kwan remembers being absolutely terrified of the lion dance.
Growing up in Hong Kong, the yearly Chinese New Year lion dances happened outside on the streets.
I was about five when my mom took me to see my first lion dance, said Kwan, spokeswoman for Aberdeen Centre. I remember thinking it looked like a vicious unicorn. I couldnt understand why this big ugly animal was dancing on the street.
My mom didnt explain the meaning of the dance to me.
The lion dance dates back thousands of years and is performed every year on the first day of Chinese New Year.
According to ancient Chinese legend, a mythical beast called Nian (meaning year in Chinese) would come and attack villagers.
Desperate, the villagers asked for the help of a great colourful lion spirit, who came and drove Nian away with its loud roar.
The following year, the villagers were defenseless against Nian because the lion was too busy protecting the Emperors Palace.
So, the people created a lion out of colourful fabric and filled it with firecrackers to drive Nian away.
The fake lion was so real looking and so successful at driving away Nian that every year since, the lion dance is performed to frighten away evil spirits and to bring luck, peace and quiet for the New Year.
That Chinese belief continues today, Kwan said. Here in Richmond, the lion dance is becoming more and more similar to what goes on in Asia.
However, in Hong Kong some lion dances are performed to hip hop music.
Aberdeen Centre hosts its eyes dotting ceremony (which symbolically awakes the lion) followed by the lion dance on Monday, Jan. 23 at 11 a.m. in the atrium. Local dignitaries will be invited on stage for the eyes dotting ceremony.
It is said that the eyes dotting ceremony wakes up the dragon and lions, added Kwan. We will have one dragon and eight lions and they will dance to traditional Chinese music and drums.
They will create a lot of the noise to scare the monsters out.
For more information, call 604-273-1234 or visit www.aberdeencentre.com.