Foreigners View on Chinese Spring Festival

2016-02-11 18:20:08 | From:

A 75-year-old lady from the United States looks at a couplet during her spring festival in Changzhou, east China's Jiangsu Province on February 5, 2016. [Photo: CFP]

Many foreigners in China for Spring Festival, the country's most important festival of the year, are using the occasion to learn about China and its people.

CRI's Niu Honglin has more.


"Hongbao and fireworks."

"Eating these Jiaozi, watching the CCTV program, maybe giving the children hongbao, and all these bianpao, the fireworks."

"Wearing traditional Tang suit and paying some New Year calls to friends and families."

Living in a foreign country can be the most exciting, challenging, and sometimes most confusing experience in a person's life.

Ricardo Akonso, 27-year-old media worker from the United Kingdom, has been working in Beijing for more than two years.

According to him, Beijing is usually crowded and busy, but also convenient and open like all the other international metropolises. But during the festival season, the city becomes restful.

Akonso is also impressed with the fireworks that are commonly seen and heard during Spring Festival.

"There's crazy amount of fireworks going on. It's like a war or something. It's crazy loud and you can't sleep well. I used to live in Dongzhimen in a little compound. It's like all the guys used to set off so many fireworks, so it was very very loud, but it was cool at the same time! "

The word "cool" can hardly summarize every foreigner's attitude toward fireworks. Some even say the whole city feels like a battlefield. And when you least expect it - KABOOM!

Unlike westerners who appreciate the visual aspect of fireworks more, Chinese also find the loudness cheering, since ancient Chinese believed that sound kept evil away.

Diego Torres, who now lives in Madrid, studied in Beijing for more than six years. He specifically mentioned that the long holiday has provided people, especially the young generations, with more options.

"Young Chinese people really love to spend time with their relatives but they also now take the advantage of the holidays to be alone. Maybe they first spend time with their relatives and then travel with their boyfriend or girlfriend. You see these lots of traditions but there is also a lot of free will and innovations."

In the meantime, to those foreigners who married into a Chinese family, the experience can be quite different.

Lee Na Dan from South Korea has lived in Beijing since 2008 and now has a Chinese wife.

Even though he has an Asian background, which includes the custom of celebrating the lunar New Year, the Korean and Chinese festivities are not that alike.

"In Korea, we don't have dumplings during the lunar new year, that's different from in China. We have our own traditional food: a kind of soup that made of rice cake pieces. We play cards with families as well, like people in China. But we return back to our own homes at 8 or 9 at night. There's no such custom of staying up late during the New Year's Eve."

Anurabanda from Sri Lanka has been living in China for over 20 years. He got married with a Chinese woman. He celebrates two different New Year Festivals every year in both countries.

He describes how his family celebrates Sri Lanka's New Year festival every April 14th.

"In Sri Lanka, normally we don't visit relatives on New Year's eve. On the first day of the New Year, couples would visit the husband's parents first, and then the wife's. I have 5 brothers. On the first day of the New Year, my brothers would bring their wives and children to my mother's house. So that would be over 30 people in a room. We eat every meal together. The biggest problem for us is that our cooking pot is not big enough!"

China and Sri Lanka have different traditions during New Year Festival. Many Chinese believe wives should spend the Spring Festival with their parents-in-law, while their parents are visited by sons and daughters-in-law. However, Due to the family planning policy introduced in 1979, most young couples are the only children in their families.

That's why young couples now celebrate spring festival by visiting each other's hometowns in alternate years, inviting both parents to their homes or traveling with both parents.

Chinese Spring Festival starts on lunar New Year's Eve and ends after the Lantern Festival. Foreign people in China can participate in the tradition of lantern watching, riddle guessing, and the cooking of sweet dumplings to help them understand China's ancient culture.

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