A taste of the Spring Festival for foreigners

By Chen Boyuan
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, January 29, 2016
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Foreigners in Beijing, including those from embassies, foreign chambers of commerce and international companies, got a chance to experience Chinese traditional Spring Festival culture on Wednesday at the "Beijing Salon: Experience Beijing," a series of events aimed to promote their local knowledge.

Foreigners learn to make a monkey face from a Peking Opera artist at the 'Beijing Salon – Experience Beijing'on Wednesday. [Photo by Chen Boyuan / China.org.cn]

Foreigners learn to make a monkey face from a Peking Opera artist at the "Beijing Salon – Experience Beijing"on Wednesday. [Photo by Chen Boyuan / China.org.cn]

At the salon, Beijing's local artists performed the lion dance, demonstrated their diabolo skills, and sang excerpts from the Peking Opera "The Monkey King" while foreigners sang Chinese pop songs and took part in a martial arts performance.

Foreigners were also invited to taste Beijing's local snacks, a chance to learn how to apply Peking Opera facial makeup, as well as a try their hand at writing Chinese calligraphy.

Wang Hui, director of Beijing Municipal Government's Information Office, expressed her warm welcome to foreign friends, especially those who had recently arrived, and encouraged them to walk around during the Spring Festival holiday, which starts on Feb. 7 this year, to get a real feel of the most important festival for the Chinese people worldwide.

"Even in different districts in Beijing, the traditions and atmosphere are different. Personally participating in the festivities will help you understand China and the Chinese culture, apart from making yourself more at home," said Ms. Wang.

Nathan Diwambuena Miayiza is a student from DR Congo. His singing of Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou's popular song aroused the entire audience, with many saying, "Blindfolded, I can't tell it is a foreigner singing a Chinese song."

Miayiza is studying electronic engineering at the Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT). After learning Chinese "very hard" for around one and half years, he is already quite fluent. He said Chinese influence was already heavy in his hometown when he was young, mainly because of Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee's Chinese martial arts films; however, no one knew about the Spring Festival back in his hometown.

"I understand it is a grand festival for Chinese, but it is also a time of loneliness and homesickness for us foreigners in Beijing. As I am about to go back home soon, after being away for almost four years, I would like to tell my townspeople about the Chinese New Year," said Miayiza.

Since it was established three years ago, the "Beijing Salon" has allowed foreign friends in Beijing to have hands-on experiences in regard to Peking Opera, martial-arts, kite flying, temple festival activities and sampling local food and beers. It has become one of the best-known ways for foreigners to get to know about the Chinese capital.

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