This year, as many Irish people are now aware, February 18th marked the beginning of the Chinese Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year. In the festival days when meeting Chinese friends, the Irish would say to their Chinese friends “Hey, the Chinese New Year, brilliant!” A lot of stores in the city centre put products for the Chinese Spring Festival on sale and offered festival discounts. The Chinese New Year certainly marked its arrival in Ireland!
With the support of the Embassy of P.R. China in Ireland, The UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland makes a great contribution to cross-cultural communication between China and Ireland at the first Spring Festival since its establishment.
In the “Chinese Spring Festival Gala Evening in Ireland” held on February 12th, twelve western students from the programme of BComm with Chinese Studies in Quinn School of Business, wearing milk-white Taiji dress and following Professor Luxing Li, performed a Taiji Chuan Show of Twenty-four Posture Forms. The fantastic performance won enthusiastic applause from an over 1000-strong audience during the entire show. At the end, the performers greeted the audience fluently with “Happy New Year and We Wish You Prosperity” in Chinese.
More than 20 Irish dignitaries, together with the UCD President and Vice President attended the gala and gave high praise of the performance. This marks the commencement of a series of activities for the Spring Festival celebration, launched by the Confucius Institute.
Later on February 16th, Dr. Martin Butler, Vice President of UCD, hosted a Chinese Spring Festival show at the Quinn School of Business. The Confucius Institute and the Chinese Students & Scholars Association (CSSA) jointly arranged various arts shows, such as folk dancing and Peking opera.
Much more impressively, one of the traditional celebrations for New Year in China, writing spontaneous Spring Festival couplets really appealed to the present Irish students. Although red paper was limited, many of the audience found paper themselves and asked for help with writing their names in Chinese.
Within the programme of BComm with Chinese Studies, over twenty Irish students learned a number of Chinese New Year traditions in the class of “Chinese Culture and Society. They made New Year cards with Chinese paper stencils, and wrote New Year wishes in Chinese.
They also tried to write Spring Festival couplets, with the brush pen traditionally used for Chinese calligraphy. It is the first time for them to experience the joy, festiveness and peace of the Chinese New Year and become magically attracted to the Chinese culture.
After the class, these students, UCD staff and Chinese students at UCD, made dumplings and celebrated the coming of the Chinese New Year. Not only these students enjoyed the happiness of the Spring Festival, but lots of Irish were able to be immersed into the joy of the festive occasion accordingly, because they sent the cards they made to relatives and friends, attached Spring Festival couplets to the doors of their houses and recounted to their parents and fellow students how they celebrated the Chinese New Year as well.
On the second day of the New Year, in another initiative organized by the Quinn School of Business and the Confucius Institute, the students from the programme of BComm with Chinese Studies and their language-learning partners from China went shopping in Chinatown and bought a rich diversity of goods for the festival. The crowd of students attracted such a large number of onlookers’ attention that they were frequently asked for explanations of the Chinese New Year. The students take pride in studying Chinese and the effect was to motivate the public to be interested in China. So far, the Institute has answered numerous calls and emails concerning Chinese language learning.
Collaborative events like these foster a great spirit of cultural understanding and increased communication between the Chinese and Irish communities.