To celebrate the Chinese New Year, Victoria’s Wong Sheung Kung Fu Club awakened its “cubs” to share with the community.
COVID-19 can’t keep this club down. For the second consecutive year organizers host new year celebrations and ceremonies virtually. It includes the eye-dotting ceremony awakening the young lion dancers.
“Anybody who celebrates the Lunar New Year, they treat it like … Christmas and Thanksgiving rolled into one. It’s 15 days of eating and drinking and celebrating. It’s about family and food,” said Daniel Low.
A first generation Chinese-Canadian, Low is pleased his kids happily share his passion for the culture and ceremony. William Low, who turns 12 on Jan. 27 and Jade Low, 9, form one lion in the video, Zempei McLeish, 11, and Jasper Lau, 12 make up the other.
Daniel ordered the small black and white lion in 2018 and since early 2019 it’s been sitting in a crate in the family garage, awaiting its moment. It fits his kids just right and with health measures limiting the ability to celebrate, that moment comes Feb. 1, the first day of the Lunar New Year, when the club launches the video to usher in the Year of the Tiger.
“In this day and age of technology we have to adapt and this is one way to do it,” Low said.
The art of the lion dance is steeped in a story, of a monster that ravaged a village every year, Low explained. Nian shou, the annual monster, would wreak havoc at the start of the spring. Villagers would bang their woks to make noise, and wear bright colours to ward off the evil. That tradition continues today.
There are many aspects to the culture and they vary region to region, Low said. Some include not sweeping the floor New Year’s Day so you don’t sweep good luck and prosperity out the door; and not washing or cutting your hair that day for similar reasons.
Learn more about the rich tradition of the lion and dragon dances in an online session Feb. 6 with longtime instructors Low, and Danny Quon of the Hon Hsing Athletic Club in Vancouver Chinatown. Register for the free program, presented by Chinese Canadian Museum, online at bit.ly/3qSpTp7.
To kick off the Year of the Tiger, find the full video on the Wong Sheung Kung Fu Club YouTube channel or link from the club site at hungfut.ca on Feb. 1.