Global celebrations of Chinese Lunar New Year continue to delight despite being virtual
Published: Feb 13, 2021 01:37 PM

Photo taken on Feb 10, 2021 shows the Nelson's Column and fountains illuminated in red to celebrate the forthcoming Chinese Lunar New Year, the Year of the Ox, at Trafalgar Square in London, Britain.Photo:Xinhua

Celebrations of the Chinese Lunar New Year worldwide look different this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but are still joyous and exciting, conveying the best wishes of people saying goodbye to the Year of the Rat and hello to the Year of the Ox.

Various celebrations have taken place around Friday, the first day of the Year of the Ox, including virtual shows, ceremonies and concerts, and many landmarks were lit up in red, not only comforting the nostalgia of overseas Chinese, but also making for special memories among local people.

Online celebrations

Top orchestras in the United States, including the San Francisco Symphony, New York Philharmonic and Philadelphia Orchestra, have moved their Lunar New Year concerts online this year.

This makes this year's Spring Festival "a truly globalized celebration," said Wei Zhou, founder and president of Weiber Consulting.

With more and more mainstream cultural organizations, including these top orchestras, marking traditional Chinese festivals, one can tell that Chinese heritage and culture are "increasingly a part of the US culture diversity," said Zhou.

The diversity is making the United States a better place, Zhou said. What's more, the US stock exchange Nasdaq also celebrated the Chinese Lunar New Year by holding a virtual closing bell ceremony, which was broadcasted on Nasdaq's outdoor displays in Times Square.

Every cloud has a silver lining, even though the world was hit hard by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, said Chinese Consul General in New York Huang Ping, who rang the closing bell for Nasdaq.

A chorus performs during the Festival of Spring Huaxing Gala Night held at SkyCity Theatre in Auckland, New Zealand, Feb. 7, 2021.Photo:Xinhua

In Europe, various online "get-together" galas are being hosted by Chinese embassies, cultural centers, Chinese community groups and student federations in Europe for those unable to return home.

Although offline activities of the "Happy Chinese Spring Festival" cannot be held in Finland, people's enthusiasm for celebrating this traditional festival was not dampened, with a special gala combining Chinese traditions and Finnish characteristics broadcasted on Helsinki City's official website.

In India, an online Spring Festival Concert has been broadcasted, where the China National Symphony Orchestra presented an artistic feast for the audience with the start of the melody "Spring Festival Overture."

The concert specially prepared "AWAARA HOON" and "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai" adapted from Indian films, which brought the concert closer to Indian audiences. "Overture to Die Fledermaus," "Leichtes Blut Polka (schnell)" and other world-famous musical pieces captivated audiences.

Photo taken on Feb. 10, 2021 shows the Empire State Building lit up in red for the Chinese Lunar New Year, in New York, the United States.Photo:Xinhua

At the Cairo Opera House located in the heart of the Egyptian capital, artists from prominent Egyptian and Chinese music and art academies presented an online concert to celebrate the Spring Festival.

Worldwide landmarks, including the Empire State Building, One World Trade Center's spire, and London's Trafalgar Square, have been lit up in red to celebrate the festival.

Also, Year of the Ox stamps were issued by post offices in countries like Japan, France, Britain, Malta, Singapore, Fiji, and New Zealand, and also by the United Nations (UN) Postal Administration.

Paris-based Chinese artist Chen Jiang Hong displays the commemorative stamps themed on the Year of the Ox during the issuing ceremony in Paris, France, Feb. 6, 2021. Photo:Xinhua

Greetings from world leaders

World leaders have taken the opportunity of the traditional Chinese festival to extend their best wishes to the Chinese people.

The president of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, Volkan Bozkir, wished a happy Lunar New Year to the Chinese people, saying "in Chinese culture, the Ox represents positivity, courage, honesty and hard work -- all of which are central to the work we do at the UN."

"May the Year of the Ox bring us joy and health," Bozkir said.

US President Joe Biden has extended greetings to the Chinese people and wished the Chinese people happiness and good fortune in the New Year.

An animation program about the Chinese Lunar New Year traditions is seen on Nasdaq's outdoor display in Times Square, New York, Feb. 11, 2021.Photo:Xinhua

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has also sent his congratulations to overseas Chinese in Japan on the Chinese Lunar New Year via an open letter, saying he would like to take the opportunity to express his gratitude to all Chinese friends and wish them good luck and prosperity in the new year.

Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn issued a Chinese Lunar New Year greeting card for the Year of the Ox, which featured a handwritten message by the princess that said the breath of the Ox reaches up to the heaven, or Niu Qi Chong Tian in Chinese, a Chinese phrase used to wish people good luck.

"Gong Xi Fa Cai 2021," Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen wrote on his official Facebook page. "My wife and I would like to join the celebrations with all of you on this occasion."

He sent his greetings by wishing overseas Chinese, Cambodians of Chinese descent and the Cambodian people happiness, good luck and fortune in the Lunar New Year.