People take part in the Festival of Chinese Immigration at Parque Aclimacao in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Aug. 12, 2018. Brazil's biggest city, Sao Paulo celebrated the Festival of Chinese Immigration over the weekend, at one of the country's leading parks, Parque Aclimacao. (Xinhua/Li Ming)
SAO PAULO, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) -- Brazil's biggest city, Sao Paulo celebrated the Festival of Chinese Immigration over the weekend, at one of the country's leading parks, Parque Aclimacao.
This year's festival precedes Chinese Immigration Day, which will be commemorated for the first time this Aug. 15 thanks to an initiative spearheaded by Brazil's President Michel Temer.
Cultural and culinary events are planned for Wednesday in Brazil's major cities, including the capital Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, which kicked off its celebrations early with Sunday's festival.
Chinese and Brazilian officials inaugurated the festivities, which featured Chinese cuisine, music, dance and traditional arts, like papercutting and calligraphy.
Lucia Franca, the wife of Sao Paulo Gov. Marcio Franca, thanked the local Chinese community for choosing Brazil and bolstering the spirit of hard work the country's leading industrial state is known for.
Franca praised these types of events for helping to promote cultural ties.
"There is nothing that brings countries closer together than culture, which has to be in a way shared," said Franca.
She also thanked China's representatives for donating a thousand baskets of basic goods among other items.
The first Chinese immigrants arrived in Brazil more than 200 years ago, and found a warm and welcoming country, Chen Peijie, China's consul general in Sao Paulo, said.
Chen stressed that Chinese Immigration Day will mark the first time the melding of the two cultures is commemorated nationwide.
Fausto Pinato, a federal deputy and head of the Brazil-China Parliamentary Front, noted the day will help Brazilians of Chinese ancestry "to remember their parents and grandparents."
Festival-goers enjoyed demonstrations of papercutting, calligraphy, traditional medicine, and the classic dragon dance, as well as Mandarin language lessons by the local Confucius Institute.
Maria de Jesus, a retired resident who lives close to the park, told Xinhua that while she knows little about Chinese culture, she is fond of Chinese food, which is what drew her to the festival.
"Last week, when walking through Aclimacao Park, where I come to exercise every day, I saw there was going to be a festival of Chinese immigration in Brazil, and I decided to come and take part," said De Jesus.
"I took the opportunity to ask them to write my name in Chinese and also good wishes of peace for my family," she said.
De Jesus often eats out at Chinese restaurants in the city's Liberdade neighborhood, home to Sao Paulo's largest Chinese immigrant community.
Caio Souza and his wife Adriana Souza brought their daughters Vitoria and Isabela to the park to learn more about China.
"I made friend with a little Chinese girl who hasn't learnt Portuguese well yet," said Isabela, 11.
"We go to school together and are always learning from each other, exchanging ideas and words in Chinese and Portuguese," she added.
On her last birthday, her friend gave her a box with "Happy Birthday" written in Chinese.
As they all waited to have their family name written in Chinese, Mrs. Souza said the festival helped put her daughters in closer touch with Chinese culture.