JC and I ran into a dragon dance performance in front of Hung Kee Chinese restaurant in Old Chinatown today. During Chinese New Year, dragon dance teams appear at Chinese-owned businesses to "choi chang" literally, pick greens. The restaurant and two other retail establishments filled red envelopes with folding money wrapped up in some lettuce leaves and hung the offering from the rafters. The dragons danced around to music supplied by a drum team, then sniffed and swatted at the lettuce before opening their mouths and snagging the salads. Then they spit out the greens and kept the cash.
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The ritual brings luck in the New Year. The Chinese people believe they are descended from the dragons and see them as symbol of powers rather than scary monsters. One of the dragons was powered by two young boys--they collected a couple of one dollar tips from kids in the parking lot.