BEIJING — The Spring Festival, the beginning of a new Chinese Lunar Year and a day when all Chinese people across the world unite with their loved ones, is being celebrated by more and more people from other cultures.
Starting from Feb 19, this year’s Spring Festival, also known as the Chinese Lunar New Year, marks the beginning of the Year of the Sheep, the eighth position in the Chinese Zodiac circle of 12 animals.
In New York, the Empire State Building (ESB) was lit up in red and yellow one night away from the Chinese New Year eve to ring in the festival as a custom that has been in place since 2001.
The lighting is a show of the friendship between the United States and China, said ESB President Anthony Malkini at the lighting ceremony.
Inside the iconic skyscraper, a festive window exhibition is under way commemorating the Chinese Year of the Sheep.
The theme for the window display, the sixth of its kind in the ESB, is “san yang kai tai” in Mandarin, which means three sheep bring happiness, implying the revival of life when spring returns and expectation for a fortunate and prosperous year.
Over the Hudson river, a 20-minute fireworks display titled “Harmonious China” took place, the first large-scale fireworks display ever in the United States to commemorate the Chinese Lunar New Year.
The dazzling show, nearly equaling the scope of the iconic Macy’s Independence Day Fireworks Spectacular, attracted a large number of audience. Some were so impressed that they even stopped their cars on the road to enjoy it.
“It’s fabulous. It’s extraordinarily beautiful,” said Susan King, who works for a non-government organization promoting teaching exchange between China and the United States and was invited to watch the fireworks in the Consulate-General of China in New York.
“The music was lovely. It’s exciting to be able to come here to watch the celebration of the Chinese New Year. We feel very honored to be here for that,” she said.
In the southern Hemisphere, Australia laid claim to be staging the biggest Chinese New Year celebrations outside Asia.
Sydney and Melbourne are scheduled to stage events for almost two weeks from mid-February, while the other state capitals of Hobart, Adelaide, Perth, Darwin, Brisbane and the national capital Canberra are all holding festive events.
With nearly 900,000 Chinese Australians living in the country, the tradition of multi-cultural communities there joining in celebration of the Lunar New Year has grown every year for the past two decades.
Sydney, the hub of Australia, is expected to host 75 events including the annual Twilight Parade, exhibitions, lion dances and dragon boat races to celebrate the Spring Festival, according to Mayor Clover Moore.
Noting that the Twilight Parade will be the highlight of the celebrations, Moore said the event is an excellent way for local communities to experience the traditional Chinese festival.
The parade, scheduled on Sunday, will feature dozens of floats and 3,000 performers, including more than 100 performers traveling there to perform martial arts and acrobatics along with jugglers, puppeteers, dancers and musicians.
In Belgium, the performance of “Legend of the Sun”, a dance drama featuring 60 traditionally trained dancers as well as the folk songs of Zhuang people in Guangxi, also drawn warm response from local audience during the time of the Chinese New Year.
Tibor Navracsics, EU Commissioner for Education and Culture, said that the show was “very artistic and good performance”.
“In order to push forward people-to-people exchanges, we have to organize more and more meaningful meetings, that means we have to identify topics and issues close to people’s everyday life,” said Navracsics.