by Xinhua writer Chen Wenxian
BRUSSELS, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- Though COVID-19 is preventing overseas Chinese from celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year the usual way -- with a family banquet -- those across Europe are embracing the Spring Festival via various online celebrations.
As Feb. 12 marks the start of the Year of the Ox, various online "get-together" galas are being hosted by Chinese embassies, cultural centers, Chinese community groups and student federations across Europe for those unable to return home.
As many overseas Chinese are welcoming the Chinese New Year in the cloud, most of them have received actual gift kits from Chinese embassies. The kits include medical supplies such as face masks, surgical gloves, alcohol gel, as well as Spring Festival poetic couplets and Chinese handicrafts.
The China Cultural Center in Paris is organizing a series of online events to celebrate the new year from Feb. 4 to Feb. 26, including exhibitions on Spring Festival traditions, concerts, a virtual exhibition of Chinese zodiac designs and an acrobatics performance on ice.
The center told Xinhua that an estimated 800,000 people in France are expected to follow the celebratory events broadcasted on various social media platforms.
On Saturday, Chinese students in Belgium launched an online party via multiple social network platforms, which involved chorus performances, piano and cello duets, and percussion and poetry recitations performed by students.
On the small island country of Malta, the opera Turandot was presented both online and on Maltese TV, as part of Spring Festival celebrations.
Showcasing opera on this special occasion illustrated the deep bond between China and Malta, said Yang Xiaolong, director of the China Cultural Center in Malta.
The center, in cooperation with the Confucius Institute of the University of Malta, also hosted an online "Happy Chinese New Year" party on Tuesday, which featured martial arts, singing and dancing, trivia quizzes and interactive activities. Overseas Chinese, students, and locals took part in the event.
As early as Jan. 23, the 12 associations of Chinese students and scholars in Germany worked together to host an online Chinese New Year gala, which featured stunning performances, including street dances and martial arts.
Du Xiaohui, Chinese consul-general in Hamburg, said that the COVID-19 pandemic forced a rapid shift to life online and broke through geographical boundaries.
The Chinese New Year is celebrated wherever Chinese people are, and they can always find a way to celebrate together, Du said, adding that the holiday is an example of the power of culture.
In Sweden, the China Cultural Center in Stockholm is hosting a series of online activities with the Zhejiang Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism from Feb. 4 to Feb. 26, presenting a variety of exhibitions, performances and interactive experiences.
The "China-Sweden Happy Chinese New Year Gala" showcases cultural performances ranging from children's songs to Peking Opera, from Guqin (a traditional musical instrument) performance to traditional dance.
These online celebration events and Spring Festival greetings provide comfort for those unable to return home.
"This year's Spring Festival takes place right after exam week. I was about to take this opportunity to return to my home country to reunite with my family, but the global pandemic situation is still severe and complicated, thus I decided to stay in Poland for safety reasons," Chen Yiyu, a graduate student at the Faculty of Law and Administration of the Jagiellonian University in Poland, told Xinhua.
Temporary separation paves way for a better reunion. As vaccination campaigns are well underway in Europe, overseas Chinese are confident that the continent will defeat the pandemic and life will return to normal in the near future, a sincere desire as they welcome the Year of the Ox. Enditem
(Xinhua reporters Tang Ji, Liu Fang in Paris, Pan Geping in Brussels, Zhang Yirong in Berlin, Chen Xu in Warsaw, and Fu Ying in Stockholm also contributed to the story.)