Acrobats performing the colourful and dramatic Lion Dance as part of the Mid Autumn Festival - one of the major events of the Chinese year, writes Matthew Brace.

This folk festival which dates back centuries into Chinese history is always celebrated under a full moon and is traditionally a time for families to come together. It falls in the middle of the Chinese year and is considered to be the equivalent of Christmas festivities in the West. Relatives who might see each other only occasionally during the year meet, talk and share moon cakes, an Oriental delicacy containing pastry with various fillings. The Lion is a symbol of goodness and luck and during its dance local businesses hang out a lettuce on their front doors and lodge money between the leaves as an offering.

As the Lion passes, it snatches the money, allowing the business proprietors to relax in the knowledge that they will now receive good luck and prosperity during the coming months.

The moon cakes originate from an ancient legend which tells of a wicked king whose people rose up against him to overthrow him and fight for freedom.

Because the king ran such an oppressive regime in the country, the only way the groups of revolutionaries could communicate and discuss their tactics for civil war was by sending messages wrapped up inside the cakes.

Today is also considered a national holiday according to the Chinese lunar calendar.

(Photograph omitted)

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