As usual on a Saturday afternoon, I walked to one of my neighborhood Chinese restaurants for lunch. There was more activity on the street than usual. Today was the day for the Lion Dance in our neighborhood.
Each merchant, wishing to participate, typically hangs lettuce leaves, fire crackers and an envelope with money in it on a string, hanging outside the entrance to their store. The group of dancers light the firecrackers beat on drums, play cymbals, enter the store to frighten away any evil spirits and exit the store after a short prayer to eat the lettuce and take the envelope. You are to leave the lettuce leaves and remnants of firecracker wrapping at the entrance for the wind to blow away. Sweeping them away would be sweeping away your good luck .
I have been told that in China competing groups of Lion Dancers can be going for the same money envelopes which are hung very high off the ground and injuries are common.
It is a fun ceremony to look forward to around each Chinese New year.