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Millcreek Journal

Millcreek embraces the Lunar New Year with dancing lions

Apr 09, 2024 12:56PM ● By Grace Simpson

The Year of the Dragon began on Feb. 10, and Shao Long Academy of Chinese Martial Arts came to Millcreek Common to perform the culturally significant lion dance.

Shao Long Academy of Chinese Martial Arts spent the Lunar New Year traveling through Utah Valley performing a traditional Chinese lion dance. After nine performances on Feb. 10, they concluded their tour at Millcreek Common where attendees gathered to celebrate the Lunar New Year. 

Dance and event coordinator Jacob Fitisemanu said, “The biggest thing about our Lunar New Year celebration is family. We're celebrating our ancestors who have passed and looking forward to new generations to come.”

Traditionally, the Lunar New Year, otherwise known as Chinese New Year, is 16 days long. It began this year on Feb. 10 and concluded on Feb. 26. This is the Year of the Dragon. 

Fitisemanu addressed the crowd before the dance began. He emphasized the importance of preserving cultural traditions and highlighted the symbolism of lettuce in Chinese culture. Lettuce is said to bring good luck and fortune on account of the word being closely associated with the Cantonese word for prosperity.

The two lions each ate a head of lettuce and the dance began as drums were played. The lions performed three bows as part of the dance. Fitisemanu said, “We bow once for the ancestors who have gone before us, once for the people who are alive today, and once for the generations who are yet to come.”

The dance began outside then the lions made their way to the building, where it was concluded. Children approached the lions with offerings to receive good luck. 

Inside, sets of the traditional Chinese tile game mahjong were set out for attendees to play. 

Dorothy Terry said she wore her “Mulan” shirt featuring the dragon Mushu to get in the spirit. Along with playing mahjong, community members came to ice skate and browse the art market on the first floor of the commons. 

Jenny Zacher, a Millcreek resident, went to the celebration with her family. She and her children had seen a dragon dance at the Children’s Museum. When she saw the Millcreek Common Instagram account post about the event, she was encouraged to attend this event as well. “It looked like a neat thing to come and see with my kids,” Zacher said. 

“We hope people will be interested and ask questions to learn more, maybe just pique their interest in Chinese culture a little bit more,” Fitisemanu said. “Bringing these celebrations to Utah fosters cultural understanding and encourages the joining of communities.”

To learn more about the Shao Long Academy of Chinese Martial Arts school, visit their website You can stay up to date on other events held by Millcreek Common by following them on Instagram λ