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Is CNY Even CNY Without Lion Dancers?

Is CNY Even CNY Without Lion Dancers?

I was looking forward to celebrating Chinese New Year with my 6 month old son.

Hamzah Nazari

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By:
Hamzah Nazari

Editorial Head, TRP


Let’s preface this with an undeniable fact: I’m not Chinese. I did, however, marry into a Chinese family about a year and 8 months ago and I’m slowly learning a little bit about Chinese culture.

This would have been my second time celebrating Chinese New Year with my in-laws except this year’s celebrations aren’t the same as last year’s.

Not by a long shot.

This year is lacking in many things, but one thing that stings the most for me is probably the absence of Lion Dancers.

My wife and I have a 6 month old son and I was excited to see his reaction to watching them jump and dance, with their loud drums and bright costumes.

I’ve always thought this colorful and exciting Chinese tradition was the best and the defining trait of Chinese New Year in Malaysia.

That and TV commercials.

Sure there have been a few TV commercials about this year’s absence of Lion Dance, some even showing the dancers in action, but one commercial in particular has struck a chord with me.

Probably because, like in real life right now, while it features a family of Lion Dancers, it doesn’t actually show any Lion Dancing. Not even a complete lion head.

The most we get is a little boy playing with a frame. (Pic credit: Maxis CNY 2021 – Little Lion)

In fact, most of the video is quite sad as it shows the youngest child of the family desperately trying to keep his family’s craft and culture alive at a time when they can barely earn any money.

The rest of the family tries to distract him by having him help wash the car, wipe windows, hang out laundry and knead dough.

Little boys can be quite single-minded. (Pic credit: Maxis CNY 2021 – Little Lion)

I won’t spoil the ending, but it also features what is probably the most important part of not only Chinese New Year, but also Chinese families as far as I can understand:

Dinner. It features other things, but from what I understand, Reunion Dinner is a Big Deal.

Dinner is a Big Deal. (Pic credit: Maxis CNY 2021 – Little Lion)

It ends with the message that despite having to struggle in an unfamiliar place and living in tough times, having a good life is about being together, staying healthy, and having hope that it will all pay off at some point.

While I’m not Chinese, it gives me hope that either next year or the year after, because of the sacrifices we’re making now, the Lion Dancers will return.

And if I stay strong I will still be able to lift my son high up so he can watch them jump and dance, cuddling him if he’s scared by their costumes and drums.


You can watch the video, directed by Rajay Singh and produced by Directors Think Tank, below.


Hamzah is the Editorial Head of TRP but his opinions are his own and do not reflect the stance of the organisation. Actually, they are rarely aligned.


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