Expats join locals to celebrate Chinese New Year

Writer: Wang Jingli  |  Editor: Holly Wang  |  From: Shenzhen Daily 

Sheryl Phillips (R) holds a calligraphy of the Chinese character Fu, which means luck and happiness, she wrote at yesterday's celebration of the Chinese New Year with more than 200 expats and local residents in Shekou, Nanshan District. Sun Yuchen

More than 200 expats from 30 countries and regions gathered with local residents at the Lighthouse Square along western Shenzhen Bay in Shekou Subdistrict yesterday to celebrate the approaching Chinese New Year.

The event was kicked off with a lion dance performance. At the site of the event, a Chinese folk culture area, international culture area and food booths were set up for attendees to enjoy the festive spirit of the important Chinese holiday.

One of the highlights of the event was a pairing ceremony, designed for the first time by Shekou Subdistrict, that gave international friends a chance to enjoy an authentic Chinese New Year by spending it with a local Chinese host family.

During the ceremony, a total of five foreign families were paired with five Chinese counterparts based on the Spring Festival couplets they selected.

Yang Siyu and her family are one of these five Chinese families to host one foreign family. Speaking of her plans for the holiday, Yang said that she would bring her new international friends into her home to have a celebration dinner for the Chinese Lunar New Year.

“In terms of dishes, considering that our friends don’t eat pork or beef, we are thinking about having dumplings with vegetables and fried tofu, and we might have some sweet wine on that day,” said Yang.

One of the participants in the pairing activity, a woman from Thailand who was identified as Ju, told the reporter that this is the first time for her family to spend the Chinese New Year in China.

“I really appreciate the chance to spend the Chinese New Year with a local family as it will let us get to know Chinese culture better,” said Ju.

Foreign participants tried their hands at many traditional folk arts such as writing Spring Festival couplets and making Chinese red lanterns, and tasted traditional food such as dumplings, cotton candy and fried dough twists called “mahua” in Chinese.

American Sheryl Phillips said that she really enjoyed experiencing more traditional Chinese arts, after she finished writing the Chinese character Fu, which means luck and happiness, with a calligraphy brush on red paper.

“I also noticed that there is a booth where friends from England prepared darts for people to play, which is good. You can also enjoy some international cultural things here,” said Phillips.

The event, organized by the Shekou Subdistrict Office, aims to bring the spirit of the Chinese New Year to expats in Shenzhen. Home to around 8,052 registered expats, Shekou is among the city’s first batch of recognized international communities.

During the Spring Festival, Shekou will make full use of other local traditions such as the Kaiding Festival held at Shekou Second Fishing Village and the Lantern Festival, and hold a series of cultural exchanges to further its role as a dynamic international community.