By Maria Spiliopoulou
ATHENS, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- Greeks joined their Chinese friends living in Athens on Saturday in celebrations ahead of the Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, sending warm wishes to China for a prosperous and peaceful year.
Ahead of the Chinese New Year which starts on Feb. 16 this year, the Chinese community warmly welcomed Greek friends at Technopolis cultural hub in the center of the Greek capital which was decorated with Chinese red lanterns for the occasion.
People strolled along the eight exhibition stands set up to get a taste of Chinese culture and traditions, and have an experience of a Temple Fair.
Children and adults admired the artists showcasing calligraphy and mask making, bought Chinese books, handmade toys, small gifts and enjoyed delicious Chinese snacks and food, before entering the nearby fully packed theater hall which hosted a spectacular performance by visiting Chinese art troupes.
Under the theme "Night of Beijing" artists from the Opera, Dance Academy and National Orchestra of Beijing, along with other troupes, performed traditional dances, theater plays, impressive acrobatics and Chinese martial arts, enthralling the audience.
The show started with a dragon dance and Chinese martial arts performance by young Greek students who were also greeted with applause and cheers from spectators.
The event was jointly organized by the Chinese embassy in Greece and the Beijing municipality with the support of the Chinese cultural center in Athens as well as the Chinese community, businesses and media in Greece.
Until Monday (Feb. 12) Athenians will have the chance to stop by Technopolis to visit the Temple Fair, watch music and dance performances by the Chinese artists and share the joy with the Chinese people.
Chinese and Greeks attending Saturday's event expressed high hopes for the upcoming Chinese New Year and the future of Sino-Greek friendship and cooperation.
"Our countries are very close. We seem like one nation, so when you celebrate the New Year, we think it is our new year also to celebrate. The future we are celebrating," Andreas Potamianos, President of the Greece-China Association, told Xinhua.
"We are very happy being together and we wish a prosperous New Year, a New Year with investments from China to Greece, added Fotis Provatas, President of the Greek-Chinese Economic Council.
Highlighting the many achievements on bilateral relations made by the two countries in 2017, Gao Wenqi, charge d'affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Greece, said there are great cooperation opportunities to explore for the two countries in the coming years, including major projects such as the Piraeus Port Authority to which China COSCO Shipping holds a majority stake.
Greek Dimitris Patounas, his Chinese wife Xiaoyi Chen and their 18-month-old son Proteus Chen Yuanxi were among the hundreds of people attending Saturday's celebration.
Next week they will be in China to celebrate with their Chinese relatives and friends.
"We came here to get a first taste... It was the first time we see a Chinese performance in Greece and it was marvelous," Patounas told Xinhua, before wishing "always progress, joy and above all peace and a Happy New Year" to Chinese and Greeks.
Terpsi Kremali attended the show with her four year old daughter. Her niece, who is learning the Chinese language, informed her about the festival, she told Xinhua. It was the first time ever she watched Chinese artists performing.
"It was very interesting, very nice. The children enjoyed the performances. They were far more impressive than we had imagined. Congratulations to everybody," she said.
"I wish the Year of the Dog to bring happiness and health," she added.