Returned Egyptians recall joyful Chinese Spring Festival
Fromxinhua Date:02-04-2016 Attention:4271       Print

"When I studied Chinese in Beijing, our Chinese professors used to invite us to share their joyful Spring Festival and make us some delicious traditional Chinese food like the Jiao Zi (dumplings), it really tasted so good," said Mona Fouad who used to be a professor of Chinese Language and now dean of Aluson Faculty at Cairo-based Ain Shams University.

Fouad is one of many Egyptian expatriates in the Chinese capital Beijing who recalled unforgettable memories with the colorful Chinese Spring Festival after coming back home to Egypt.

"We were amazed by watching the massive fireworks on the Spring Festival in Beijing. It was really such a remarkable event there," the lady professor told Xinhua, stressing the festival can be considered "a window for the Chinese culture and old habits and traditions."

The countdown is now ticking for the Chinese celebrations of the Spring Festival that marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year, which happens to be the "Year of Monkey" this year.

"The Chinese have 12 signs and they pick one for each year and the sign is repeated every 12 years and so on. It's a very nice tradition that makes people happy and leaves a real good impression," Fouad recalled, stressing the festival gives a feeling of hope and optimism all over China.

"Even here in Egypt, our Chinese friends always invite us to join them in celebrating the Spring Festival," she said.

For his part, Ahmed Sallam, former media adviser at the Egyptian embassy in Beijing and expert of Chinese affairs, said that the Chinese Spring Festival celebrations appeal to Egyptians as they are similar to the Muslim feasts in terms of family closeness and gatherings and the gift pocket money given to children.

"The Spring Festival is celebrated by all Chinese nationals regardless of their religions, whether they are Muslims or non-Muslims. It is one of the most important festivals all over the huge Asian country," Sallam told Xinhua.

"It is a warm family atmosphere that can hardly be described. It's so close to our traditions in Egypt when someone works in the capital Cairo and travel back to his hometown for family gatherings during the feast," he told Xinhua.

Sallam noticed that although the holiday is one week in China, the celebrations go on for almost one month, and that similar to Egyptian feasts the Chinese parents give their children pocket money, which is referred to in China as "Hong Bao."

Experiencing the Chinese traditional attractive, colorful and joyful Lunar New Year activities in Beijing, some Egyptian expatriates expect the Chinese New Year to be globally celebrated just like the Western New Year in the near future.

"Our children will one day equally celebrate both the Western New Year and the Chinese New Year as the world is gradually becoming a small village, so the Chinese New Year will be in the future a milestone not only in China but in the whole world," said Nasser Abdel-Aal, who worked for Egypt's embassy in China for 11 years and is now professor of Chinese Studies at Ain Shams University.

"As foreign guests from embassies, the Chinese used to invite us to celebrate with them and cook and eat the Jiao Zi dish together. Everyone must eat on the Chinese Spring eve as they believe it gathers the family members throughout the whole year and spread love among them forever," Abdel-Aal, also former Tourism Minister's adviser for Asian tourist markets, narrated.

He said that the Chinese Spring Festival is not restricted to China but it is also marked in the neighboring states inhabited by large communities of Chinese people.

"Marking the coming of spring, I noticed that the Chinese love flowers so much. So, they hold flower exhibitions during the Chinese Spring Festival, but mainly in the south," he recalled, "where you can find flowers exhibitions, gardens and homes covered and decorated with flowers, etc."

The celebrations included Chinese traditional stage performances such as the Kong Zhu (the diabolo), besides various traditional dances such as the dragon one and arts like calligraphy, tea making and clay shaping and were always attended by Chinese and Egyptian officials.

"In fact, the Chinese have established many workshops for the Spring Festival celebrations across the world featuring their unique traditions and rituals and attempting to place the Spring Festival on the list of non-material world heritage," Abdel-Aal said.

The ex-official expects the big Chinese traditional festival to last forever as it preserves traditions and is concerned with the spiritual and human sides rather than the materialistic one.