Across China: German man's first Spring Festival in a China village

Society 24

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Sebastian Hahn (L) and his girlfriend set off fireworks at a village in Danzhou, south China's Hainan Province, Jan. 23, 2023. (Xinhua/Guo Cheng)

HAIKOU, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- This is Sebastian Hahn's ninth Spring Festival in south China's island province of Hainan, but it's the first time that he spent the Chinese Lunar New year in a village.

Hahn, from Berlin, Germany, graduated from Hainan University in 2020 and opened a cafe with his Chinese girlfriend Tina last year in Haikou, capital of Hainan.

During this year's Spring Festival, Hahn visited Tina's hometown, a village in Danzhou City.

"I used to spend Spring Festival in Haikou, which was almost empty during the festival. Restaurants and shops were closed because people who work here went to their hometowns elsewhere," he said, adding that he could see people everywhere in the village.

In the village, Hahn experienced a totally different Spring Festival, including going to street fairs, making rice dumplings, and playing with fireworks and firecrackers.

"The market is full of people, full of every kind of smell from fresh fruits to fireworks, and I think it is the atmosphere of the Chinese Lunar New Year," he said, noting that it's so traditional and lively that he never knew before.

On the second day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, Hahn learned how to make rice dumplings from his girlfriend's mom. "Use sticky rice flour together with water to make little balls, and then boil them in water. It's interesting," he said. "The rice dumplings go well with sugar and taste delicious."

Hahn's favorite thing was to play fireworks. "When I play fireworks, it reminds me of my childhood, because in Germany, we also have fireworks for the new year," said Hahn.

He also visited the Dongpo Academy, a famous tourist scenic spot in Danzhou. "Su Dongpo was a famous poet who lived in China's Song Dynasty (960-1279), and he was very popular with Chinese people," said Hahn. "You can see his name quite often in Hainan. For example, at Hainan University, there's a big lake named Dongpo Lake, and there's also a big statue of him."

Hahn noticed that besides some general customs and traditions like putting up spring couplets and playing firecrackers, Hainan also has its special local tradition. "In Hainan, people eat a lot of chicken. We ate chicken yesterday and today, and will eat again tomorrow. On the market, chickens are found everywhere, and everybody buys fresh chicken and even live chickens," he said.

Hahn had prepared "hongbao," traditional red envelopes of cash gifts given during the holiday, specially for Tina and her family. "I think when you spend so much time in China, you need to adapt to local customs," he said.

In Hahn's eyes, the Spring Festival is similar to Christmas in Germany. "It's the most important festival for Chinese people, and all the family members come together to reunite, the same like Christmas," he said. ■

Sebastian Hahn (L) and his girlfriend set off fireworks at a village in Danzhou, south China's Hainan Province, Jan. 23, 2023. (Xinhua/Guo Cheng)

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