The video shows a traditional Chinese lion dance in Vietnamese style at a Tet New Year’s celebration in central Saigon. The custom comes from a Chinese tradition called “cái ching” (青採) which translates to “vegetable pick.” The meanings of Chinese words are often connected when they share similar sounds, especially when the associated meaning is really positive or really negative. Since “cái” (青) has the same pronunciation as “cái” (财), or fortune, “cái ching” is meant to be an auspicious occasion.
In the “cái ching” tradition, different types of vegetables are hung outside of businesses or homes as a challenge for the lion to obtain. The more difficult the challenge, the fatter the red envelope of “lucky money” to be rewarded.
This picture taken in Vancouver’s Chinatown shows how it was done in the days of old when the lettuce was hung 15 to 20 feet above the ground and only the best martial artists could reach it.
Today the competition is usually acted out in dance. The lion dance, and sometimes the dragon dance, are performed for important occasions including cultural and religious festivals, business openings, birthdays and wedding ceremonies. The Vietnamese have adapted their own style to the Chinese lion dance, as seen above.