The lion dance is an important tradition in Asia, especially in China. Lion dancing experts with the National Freestyle Championship Series say the Chinese people regard the lion as a symbol of bravery and peace, and the loud banging music and firecrackers are meant to scare away evil. The lion dance is believed to bring good luck and happiness. The lion dance is performed during festive occasions such as the Chinese New Year, weddings and grand openings of businesses.


  1. According to the National Freestyle Championship Series, lions were introduced into China when Persia began trading with China nearly 2,000 years ago. At that time, the ambassador from Persia sent lions and other animals to the emperor of China as a gift. After the introduction, there are several different stories about the origin of the lion dance.
  2. The Goddess

  3. The New World Encyclopedia says the lion dance originated in China sometime during the Tang Dynasty, between 618 to 907. According to the encyclopedia, in this version, there was a lion in heaven that was curious, playful and often caused mischief. According to this story, the Jade Emperor was annoyed, had the lion's head chopped off and threw the remains down to Earth. Fortunately, the goddess of mercy saw what happened. According to the story, she went to Earth and tied the lion's head back onto his body with an enchanted red ribbon---which she said would protect the lion and frighten away evil spirits.
  4. The Emperor's Dream

  5. Another popular story about the history of the lion dance is that it originated from an emperor's dream. The Ling Nam Siu Lum Kung Fu Academy on Long Island says around 700 A.D., the emperor had a dream in which he was saved by a mysterious creature. He was told that the creature resembled a Western lion. After that, the lion became a symbol of good luck and prosperity.
  6. The Monk

  7. The Lieu Quan Lion Dance Team in Washington tells another story about the history of the lion dance. In this one, every day at noon, a lion would come down from the mountains to terrorize the people of a small village. The people of the village called a high-ranked monk to help them. He told them to get pots, pans and kettles to make noise and scare the lion the next time he came down. It worked. Then, as the lion ran away from the noise, the monk followed it back up the mountain to train it. A week later, the monk said he tamed the mountain with his magical fan and that the lion would only come down during the new year, to scare away evil spirits and bring joy, happiness and prosperity.
  8. The Protector

  9. In addition, there are many variations of a story that has the lion as a protector. The New World Encyclopedia says some of the stories tell of cases where the lion saved people from danger. Others tell of people dressing up like a lion to scare away a ferocious creature, or of a lion defeating an enemy king.
  10. Fun Fact

  11. According to the encyclopedia and other sources, people watching traditional Chinese dances sometimes confuse lion and dragon dances. Lion dances are done with two dancers. Dragon dances are performed by three or more people.

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