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Diverse celebrations held across Europe to welcome Chinese New Year

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-02-04 07:26

Dancers perform during the launching ceremony of Happy Chinese New Year in Budapest, Hungary January 25, 2024. [Photo/Xinhua]

LONDON/BUDAPEST/SOFIA/MADRID - Chinese New Year, or the Spring Festival, is still a week away, but people across Europe have felt the festive ambiance by savoring traditional Chinese cuisine and enjoying various celebratory activities.

The Chinese lunar new year, or the Year of the Dragon, falls on Feb. 10 this year. From Jan. 29 to Feb. 12, 50 iconic red London buses featuring the "Nihao China" national tourism image, the Happy Chinese New Year logo, and the auspicious Chinese dragon image, pass through London landmarks such as Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, and St. Paul's Cathedral, bringing Spring Festival blessings to residents and visitors around the world.

On Saturday, the National Maritime Museum in London staged wonderful Lunar New Year celebrations, including lion dances, tea tasting ceremony, Lunar New Year storytelling and mahjong playing. A similar celebration was held at the British Science Museum Thursday night.

During a Chinese cuisine tasting event held at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Hotel in London on Friday, four master chefs from Shenzhen Culinary Association introduced the characteristics of Cantonese Cuisine, explained the cooking methods, and invited guests to prepare and taste the traditional Chinese Year's Eve dinner.

In Budapest's Chinatown, a delegation from China's southwest province of Chengdu treated Hungarian audience with a diverse range of traditional Chinese arts, including the meticulous craft of painting the inside of glass bottle and the culinary artistry behind Szechuan-styled stuffed buns.

"We had lived in China for four years and my son was born in Beijing, so we have a deep connection to the tradition," said a man from Kecskemet, Central Hungary. "It is our first time to this quarter, and we're eager to keep the culture we experienced in China a part of our lives here."

In Sofia, Bulgaria's capital, a folklore event titled "Dancing Dragon Welcomes Spring" kicked off on Saturday at the China Cultural Center. The event featured artistic performances, traditional Chinese games and a tasting session of Chinese cuisine.

Wang Min, charge d'affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Bulgaria, said that the Chinese New Year, was the oldest and most important traditional holiday in Chinese culture and the dragon is a symbol of prosperity, strength, nobility and luck.

A concert featuring Chinese songs and world classic opera excerpts was held in Madrid on Saturday as part of celebrations of Chinese lunar new year.

At the National Music Auditorium, the Choir of the Shenzhen Dance and Opera Theater performed folk songs from China, such as "Jasmine Flower" and "Hymn of Eight Horses," as well as well-known opera excerpts "Les voici!" by George Bizet and "Libiamo ne'lieti calici" by Giuseppe Verdi.

"I love music, so I love listening to sounds from other cultures, which are very different from ours. They are very melodious sounds," Marta Gonzalez, an attendee, told Xinhua after the concert.

Jose Lorenzo, another attendee from the Spanish city of Cordoba welcomed the initiative to strengthen cultural ties between China and Spain. He expressed his appreciation for the visa exemption policy by the Chinese government for Spain.

"I work in the tourism sector and the visa exemption is a magnificent measure to me, but I hope there is also reciprocity for Chinese tourists who want to come to Spain. I have known several Spaniards who have thought about China as a destination for their vacations in August. It is a real incentive," he said.

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