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Chinese New Year. Chinatown, San Francisco 2008. (The Year of the Rat). Chinese Lions are escorted around the area visiting local shops welcoming in the New Year.
I do not know the exact meaning of the ritual, but what happens is a decorated lion like this one visits one shop after another up and down the street. The lion is followed by a group of musicans banging drums and cymbals. The Lion does a brief dance outside the shop then walks inside. After perhaps 30 seconds, the lion comes back outside and moves on the next shop. Immediately after the lion has left the shop, one of the troupe sets off some firecrackers in the doorway of the shop the lion just visited. This little ritual is repeatedly in nearly every shop in Chinatown during the afternoon.
I suspect the ritual is intended to bring forth good luck to the shop owner and ultimately support the community at large.
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