Lion Dance


If you ever stop by Hoi An during the festival season, especially during the full moon Autumn festival, it will be hard to forget the joyful, excited atmosphere created by the locals celebrating it. The part you do not want to miss in this festival is the Lion-dance. On this occasion, all the main roads and little alleys all over the city are


The lions express joy, happiness and good luck. The Lion Dance also plays an important role in the consecration of temples and other buildings, during planting and harvesting times, at business openings, official celebrations and religious rites, weddings and even red egg/ginger parties celebrating the birth of a baby.

For a proper lion dance, the movements must match the music played on a minimum of three instruments: drum, gong and cymbal. Either the person performing in the lion head or the drummer initiates the movement and signals the other, so that the movement and music are synchronized. Certain movements must follow a specified sequence: for example, the 3-Star movement, then the 7-Star movement, followed by the High Dance. Variations to the basic beats help keep the music lively. The loud music, along with the firecrackers and lion movements, is used to scare away “evil spirits” so that good luck will follow. The performance attaches much attention to movements such as scratching an itch, shaking or licking the hair, and so on.

As the lion moves from place to place, he looks for some green vegetables such as lettuce, which are hung above the doors of houses or businesses. Hidden in the leaves is a red packet of money. The lion eats the lettuce and the red packet. He then scatters lettuce leaves to symbolize a fresh start for the new year and the spreading of good luck.