Spring Festival Goes Global: How Foreigners Celebrate It

More and more foreign figures send greetings to the Chinese people for the Spring Festival.

As a tradition that spans thousands of years, the Spring Festival is a significant event for Chinese people. In recent years, the spread of the Spring Festival to overseas countries has been accelerating. Its influence abroad is also climbing. Some countries recognize the Spring Festival as a public holiday. Other countries hold various celebrations. Many international figures publicly send warm greetings.

How did the Spring Festival become so popular around the world?

The Spring Festival holiday is more than just the “welfare” of the Chinese people. More and more countries and regions in the world are making Chinese Lunar New Year a public holiday.

Among Asian countries, Vietnam, South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia all celebrate and recognize Chinese Lunar New Year as a public holiday. The Spring Festival was listed as an Indonesia national public holiday in 2002. The Philippines announced the Chinese Lunar New Year as a national holiday in 2005.

In 2015, Indonesian Chinatown just before the Spring Festival was filled with festive decorations. Photo by Gu Shihong

Many states in the United States have set Chinese New Year as a public holiday. In 2014, the Spring Festival became a New York State public holiday for schools. This was the first official public Chinese holiday in American history. The Chinese community has called for setting the Lunar New Year as a national holiday in the United States.

At present, nearly 20 countries and regions have set Chinese New Year as a nationwide or state-wide public holiday. China’s Spring Festival is becoming increasingly internationalized and celebrated by the world.

How they celebrate the Spring Festival—the world makes the Spring Festival a super party.

How do you celebrate the Spring Festival? In China, it is a family reunion, visiting relatives and friends, going to temple fairs and other activities. In foreign countries, the Spring Festival has gradually and unexpectedly become a “super event”.

In celebration of the 2015 Chinese New Year, New York held a grand fireworks display over the Hudson River. That event was the first large-scale fireworks display in the United States to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

In 2017, London held the largest Chinese New Year celebration outside Asia. The dragon and lion dance and float parade from Trafalgar Square to Chinatown attracted thousands of cheering spectators. As of 2017, the Empire State Building in New York City has displayed special lighting effects for Chinese New Year for 17 consecutive years. The Sydney Opera House has turned on special lights for Chinese New Year for 5 consecutive years. China’s Spring Festival has become a worldly celebration.

As more people travel abroad during the Spring Festival, many countries are embracing Spring Festival festivities so Chinese tourists can feel at home.

In Bangkok in 2017, Chinatown was filled with Spring Festival merriness. Photo by Li Mang from Xinhua News Agency

For Chinese New Year — Year of the Rooster, malls in Phuket, Thailand played Chinese songs; the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, France displayed Picasso works; and a British tourist handbook stated that the Chinese New Year is also the Festival in Britain. During Spring Festival — Year of the Monkey, duty-free shops in the Dubai airport held a series of promotions, decorating shops with traditional Chinese festivities. The South Bank Mall in Los Angeles decorated their square dome with hundreds of red lanterns. Chinese tourists have recharged the world economy where recovery was weak and confidence was low, and the world has made Chinese New Year a grand carnival.

Foreign politicians greet and celebrate the Chinese New Year

More and more foreign figures send greetings to the Chinese people during the Spring Festival. For 2017 Chinese New Year, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, British Prime Minister Theresa May, South African President Jacob Zuma, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and other international politicians sent videos or messages to wish the Chinese people a Happy New Year.

Some politicians and public figures personally participated in the Chinese New Year celebrations. In 2015, Prince Charles of Wales and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, went to London’s Chinatown to see the lion dance, learn Chinese characters and join in the Lunar New Year celebrations. In 2017, United States President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her daughter Arabella visited the United States Chinese embassy to send greetings for the Spring Festival.

The Year of the Dog is coming up. How will the world celebrate it? We’ll find out soon!

This article originally appeared in Jiemian and was translated by Pandaily.