Feature: Lantern Festival extends Spring Festival joy across Europe


  • World
  • Monday, 26 Feb 2024

BRUSSELS, Feb. 25 (Xinhua) -- Concerts, galas, lantern riddle solving, as well as fairs and exhibitions, were held across several European countries in celebration of the much-anticipated Chinese Lantern Festival.

The festival, which falls on the fifteenth day of the first month of the Chinese lunar calendar, marks the end of Chinese New Year celebrations and symbolizes the coming of spring. This year, the Lantern Festival fell on Saturday.

On Saturday evening, in Oxford, the United Kingdom, the Oxford Chinese Students and Scholars Association organized a gala celebrating the Year of the Dragon and the Lantern Festival, showcasing an array of cultural performances such as lion dance, martial arts display, folk music and dance, Sichuan Opera face-changing, and a cappella.

Approximately 1,000 attendees reveled in the diverse performances. "The diversity and vibrancy that our Chinese friends bring to Oxford enrich our cultural tapestry and foster an environment of mutual understanding and respect," said Lord Mayor of Oxford Lubna Arshad.

A highlight of the gala was a Chinese-style stand-up comedy, or "Xiangsheng." It entertained the audience by talking about Chinese poems and their translations, eliciting laughter from the audience with a skillful blend of wordplay and humor.

One of the comedians, Shyshov Yegor, a Ukrainian living in China for more than 15 years, told Xinhua that he first went to China as an exchange student. He said "Xiangsheng" is not only a performance that can bring joy to people but also a language art that facilitates mutual understanding between different cultures.

Also on Saturday, a Chinese Spring Festival fair with over 30 booths provided a festive display of Chinese food, martial arts, calligraphy, Tai Chi, and Hanfu display in Antwerp, Belgium.

The one-day event, co-hosted by the Chinese Embassy in Belgium and the overseas Chinese societies in Belgium, attracted nearly 2,000 residents, overseas Chinese in the country, and tourists from other countries.

A resident, who gave his name as Lucas and wore a deep-blue Chinese Tang suit with dragon-shaped embroidery on his sleeves, shared his knowledge about the Spring Festival with Xinhua. "I know there are 12 zodiac signs in China. My zodiac sign is a tiger. It's a bit sad that I'm not a dragon, but a tiger is also pretty cool," he said with a big smile.

In Binche, Belgium, the Happy Chinese New Year of the Dragon exhibition was held at the International Carnival and Mask Museum. The show running until March 31 represents understandings of the Chinese dragon by 41 artists through their paintings and designs.

At a Lantern Festival party in Slovakia on Friday evening, some 200 attendees participated in activities such as solving lantern riddles, writing Chinese characters and making sweet glutinous rice dumplings called yuanxiao, or tangyuan.

An award ceremony for a lantern drawing contest, dedicated to the Chinese Lantern Festival, was held at the Chinese Embassy in Bulgaria on Thursday evening. About 120 out of more than 300 contestants, who are students from six national art schools in five Bulgarian cities, participated in the award ceremony.

"These works are imbued with the strong spirit of traditional Chinese culture and the wonderful imagination of children," Guan Xin, cultural counselor at the Chinese Embassy in Bulgaria said.

Avelina Nikolova from Sliven, who was honored with prize, told Xinhua that the event was a "very entertaining, exciting experience," and she learned a lot about Chinese culture.

On Wednesday and Thursday in Malta, two Chinese Lantern Festival concerts captivated local audiences with the enchanting melodies of traditional Chinese music. The event, hosted by the China Cultural Centre in Malta, featured classic Chinese songs such as "Give Me a Rose," "Nocturnal Peace" and "Moonlight over the Spring River."

The China Broadcasting Performing Arts Troupe's performance in the capital city of Valletta on Wednesday night received a standing ovation, and the artists gave an encore of two more songs: "Jasmine Flower" from China and "Festa" from Malta.

Mary Ann Cauchi, director of Funding and Strategy for the Arts Council Malta, said that the Chinese festival has become a popular attraction. It promotes the convergence of two different cultures, and two ancient civilizations, she said.

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