SEE IT — Port Arthur youth group performs traditional Lunar New Year lion dance

Published 12:40 am Tuesday, February 1, 2022

If there were any bad spirits at Sam Houston Elementary School Monday, they were gone by 12:30 p.m., as the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Movement from Queen of Vietnam Catholic Church performed the traditional lion dance in celebration of the Lunar New Year.

It was one of the places throughout the area that the group would travel ahead of today’s Lunar New Year.

“We’re pretty excited,” said Nhan Nguyen, whose father Linh Nguyen leads the group. “Every time it comes around this year we’re always very excited to perform for the kids and all the people that celebrate the Chinese New Year.”

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Nhan said the group — which has approximately 20 members between the ages of 10 and 20 — performs at schools, stores and weddings. And while they concentrate mostly on this holiday, they participate in other events around the year.

“We’re here to bring good luck and scare away any bad luck that comes for the new year,” Nhan said. “When the new year comes, everyone is cleaned and it comes with good luck.”

The lion dance is one of the biggest traditions of the Lunar New Year. Others include cleaning house to rid it of negativity, indulging in certain foods such as dumplings and fish, gifting children with red envelopes that contain money and visiting with loved ones.

Linh said the group brought eight dragons to Houston Elementary Monday.

The colorful costumes ordered in Vietnam and China danced to rhythmic drum beats and music provided by members of the group, weaving in and out of students. The children danced along, giggled and petted the fluffy dragons as they came around, winking and occasionally standing up straight to reveal people underneath sitting on another’s shoulders to provide the length and flexible movement.

“If you notice on top of the lion there’s a mirror,” Linh said. “The mirror…it bounces back all the evil spirits, so that’s what the reflection is for. If the business or house or school has evil spirits, it will go away. So that’s why many businesses and stores invite the lion. that way the lion can chase all the misfortune and evil spirits away and bring back the prosperous and healthy.”

Nhan said the group has been performing for approximately eight years.