Bridging the gap between cultures over the holiday

By Sava Hassan Source:Global Times Published: 2016-1-25 18:21:44

Chinese Spring Festival decorations are on sale at a local market in Jilin Province on January 20. Photo: IC

As a Canadian Egyptian author and educator who has lived in China for more than 12 years, I seize every opportunity to share the joys of the Chinese holidays, especially the Chinese New Year, with my Chinese friends and family.

It is a well-known fact that Chinese celebrate this precious event by gathering at the home of one selected member of the family to savor a sumptuous nianyefan, or New Year's Eve dinner, consisting of dishes such as dumplings and the famous Peking duck, while reminiscing about the events of the past year, playing cards or watching the Spring Festival galas featuring renowned Chinese singers and celebrities on different TV stations.

Younger individuals, who have the energy and stamina to stand the freezing cold of February, venture into the streets to watch the mesmerizing fireworks and share the joys of the event with their fellow citizens, while others, who prefer a warm and cozy atmosphere, go to night clubs, KTVs and bars to sip on their favorite alcoholic beverages and get lost listening or dancing to seductive music.

Without stating the obvious, most people try to escape the boredom and loneliness of the long winter nights of February by joining others in celebrating the holiday. Needless to say, foreigners, who reside alone in China, search for locations where they can join others who are trying not to fall victim to the despair of missing their beloved ones.

During previous years, I made an effort to gather with my foreign colleagues. Transcending language barriers and forgetting all about our political, religious or racial differences, we united together in the spirit of the holiday with nothing to worry about except enjoying ourselves.

Throughout the world, people, of various racial backgrounds, rush to Chinese establishments to enjoy the festivities with their Chinese friends, relatives and coworkers. While I was living in Canada, my friends and I would reserve seats at one of the Chinese restaurants nearby to savor their delicious food and admire the Chinese ornaments and decorations that created a mystical atmosphere in the place.

Being profoundly fascinated and awed by Chinese culture, I made sure to enjoy the festivities of the Chinese Spring Festival no matter where I was, either living in Egypt, traveling through Europe or visiting the US.

This year, I will be spending the days preceding the big event with my beautiful daughter in Montreal, Canada. Probably, we will go out to a Chinese restaurant to enjoy some famous dishes.

As for Chinese New Year's Eve, I will be on a flight back to Beijing. Hopefully, I shall arrive in Beijing on  Chinese New Year's Day, February 8, to enjoy celebrating the rest of the Spring Festival with my family and Chinese relatives.

As usual, Chinese establishments such as five and four stars hotels and restaurants, everywhere, especially in the capital city of Beijing, will rise to the occasion by holding parties for foreigners and Chinese alike that will include a sumptuous dinner followed by fireworks and festive music and dancing.

My dear foreign colleagues, regardless of your plans for the Chinese New Year, join our Chinese hosts in celebrating the Chinese New Year while savoring their traditional dishes, enjoying the Chinese New Year decorations and experiencing their mesmerizing fireworks.

On February 8, please join me by raising your glass of baiju, beer, wine or soft drink to toast the Chinese New Year with our Chinese friends.

As for Chinese everywhere, especially my relatives, friends and colleagues, I wholeheartedly extend my best wishes for a "xinnian kuaile," or "Happy New Year." I hope that the New Year will bring you happiness, steady prosperity and excellent health. I hope that my beloved China will continue developing and spreading its peaceful influence worldwide. 

Newspaper headline: Spirit of the Chinese New Year

Posted in: Culture & Leisure

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