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Chinese Ambassador to Ghana H.E. Mdm. Sun Baohong Publishes a Signed Article on Celebrating the Chinese Spring Festival in A Leading Newspaper in Ghana
2018/02/19

On 27 October 2017, Chinese Ambassador to Ghana H.E. Mdm. Sun Baohong published a signed article titled Celebrating the Chinese Spring Festival Together in Daily Graphic, a leading newspaper in Ghana.

The full text reads as follows:

Today, 15th of February, is a special day. According to the Chinese lunar calendar, today is the thirtieth day of the twelfth lunar month, which is the Eve of the Lunar New Year. Tomorrow, 16th of the February, marks the Chinese New Year, the Spring Festival. On this beautiful occasion, on behalf of the Chinese Embassy in Ghana, I would like to wish all of our Chinese and Ghanaian friends and friends of other countries prosperity and good luck in the Year of Dog.

THE ORIGIN OF THE SPRING FESTIVAL

Spring Festival refers to the traditional Chinese Lunar New Year in the cultural circle of Chinese characters. It is commonly known as Guo Nian (celebrate new year) and has a history of more than 4,000 years. The concept of the Spring Festival and the Nian (year) first came from agriculture. In ancient times, people referred to the growth cycle of grain as Nian (year). The term of Nian (year) emerged in the Zhou Dynasty (over 3000 years ago) and officially fixed in the Western Han Dynasty (about 2000 years ago). As the first day of the first lunar month always comes around Lichun (one of the 24 solar terms), which symbolizes the beginning of spring, the first day of the lunar year is designated as the "Spring Festival". In tradition, Spring Festival starts from the 23rd of the twelfth month (the day is devoted to paying tribute to the God of Kithchen), and lasts till the fifteenth day of the first lunar month (Lantern Festival).

THE CUSTOMS OF THE SPRING FESTIVAL

Spring Festival is an auspicious day. Friends of other countries are aware of the Chinese Zodiac, representing the twelve animals that symbolize the year of birth. These include Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. The Chinese Zodiac was established in the sixth century BC, which was initially twelve animals representing the time in the Chinese Chronology and later evolved into a chronology of the year. Every year there is a unique zodiac, which is said that, people born in different years have different personality traits. This year is the Year of Dog which symbolizes Loyalty, Bravery and Staunchness. I wonder which one of the Chinese Zodiac my readers belong to.

Spring Festival is a busy day. Although it is the first day of the first lunar month, people begin to prepare for the Spring Festival from the twenty-third day of the twelfth lunar month: booking return-home tickets, cleaning houses, purchasing goods, buying food stuffs, preparing gifts, etc. All the preparatory works are done before the Spring Festival.

Spring Festival is the day for family reunion and ancestor worship. On the Eve of the Spring Festival, the whole town turns out to be quite empty as people all gather under family roof. People who scattered at every corner of the world a few days before the New Year will now gather at their elders' homes, to commemorate an incense ceremony and worship the Gods of Nature and their ancestors. They also express best wishes for the country prosperity and their family happiness and well-being. Afterwards, people will honor their relatives and friends according to their seniority, and wish each other good health and smooth career in the New Year.

Spring Festival is the day for kids. Just as Ghanaian kids long for holidays, Chinese children also look forward to the Spring Festival, on which day elders present red envelopes to their kids. Red envelopes are lucky money that elders send to younger ones in red envelopes on New Year's Eve to bestow them the blessings and good luck of the new year. Children will also set off firecrackers on this day and make merry to their heart's content. There is also an interesting legend behind this tradition. In ancient times, there were two monsters named Sui and Nian that did harm to the people during the Spring Festival. Later, people used glittering copper coins and roaring firecrackers to drive away these monsters, so red envelopes are also called "Ya Sui Qian"( Money for pushing away the Sui), and Spring Festival is also called "Guo Nian"( Frightening the Nian).

Spring Festival is the day for carnival. When the bells of the New Year ring, the firecrackers are deafeningly loud and the gigantic fireworks cover the entire night sky. After saying farewell to the passing year and embracing the new year, the celebration is ushered into the climax. A variety of colorful entertainment competitions are carried out: the lions playing, dragon dancing, Yangko dancing, stilts walking and so on, adding a rich festive atmosphere to the Spring Festival.

CHANGES OF THE SPRING FESTIVAL

With the rapid development of China, some changes have taken place in the way Chinese people celebrate the Spring Festival. The extensive network of high-speed rail, highways and aviation make it easier to go home to reunite with families and friends from all over the world together. With the development of online shopping, it is no longer necessary to bustle about purchasing for the New Year. Instead, you can easily sit at home, click the screen gently and wait for the door-to-door service for your New Year goods. Traditional red envelopes have also been transformed into grabbing electronic red envelopes by using a Social App called WeChat. Red envelopes are no longer only for kids, but also for both men and women, old and young. Everyone can receive red envelopes from their beloved ones by WeChat. People no longer just sit at home and watch Spring Festival Gala on TV. More and more Chinese people go abroad for travelling during the Spring Festival which is called the Golden Week, stimulating tourism in many countries. People do not just stay at home with family, the highways are jammed with travelling cars everywhere in the country. But no matter how the form of celebration changes, what remains unchanged is the Chinese people's inheritance of traditional culture, their pursuit of a better life and their firm belief in realizing the Chinese dream.

Celebrating the Chinese New Year Together

Spring Festival belongs to China. It belongs to the world as well. During the Spring Festival, the top of the Empire State Building in Midtown Manhattan, New York, will be emblazoned in red and gold at dusk. From London to Sydney, from Port Louis to Rio de Janeiro, cities of many countries hold grand Spring Festival Parade or bustling Spring Festival fairs. In the heart of Europe, Brussels this year will host a large Chinese lantern show as the crowning touch for a series of Spring Festival celebrations. Dignitaries from many countries send their New Year's greetings to the Chinese people. Many people in the world will bow and hold their hands like Chinese people saying I wish you fortune and prosperity.

With the development of China-Ghana relations, the Spring Festival has come to Ghana. For the past several years, I have attended the celebration of the Spring Festival held by the Confucius Institute at the University of Ghana. Each time there are two to three thousand teachers and students attending the event. When I attended the celebration last week, I heard the children of the University of Ghana Basic School sing a Chinese song affectionately. The song is actually called "The Same Song" and it really contains the Ghanaian people's aspiration for a better life and their dream of peace and tranquility. At that moment, I suddenly realized that the key essence of the Chinese New Year that infects the world is not just "flying dragon and leaping tiger", nor is "wealth and fortune". The Chinese people's love for the country and family, their respect for harmony, their inheritance of tradition and unremitting pursuit of better life have been widely recognized by the people of all countries in the world.

With the innumerable happiness added to the Year of the Rooster, the Year of Dog scale new heights. I sincerely hope that in 2018, the friendly exchanges and cooperation between China and other countries in the world, including Ghana, will mount to a higher level!

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