Contributed by Zefang Zhang (Fancy)
This is my third time celebrating the Spring Festival on an island: I am from Beijing, which is a very famous city you may be familiar with in northern China. Of all the times I have celebrated the Spring Festival, this is only my third time doing so on an island. Typically during the Festival local people stay in Beijing to go to the Beijing temple fair, which is a conventional folk activity. Most people also choose to return home (to me Beijing) because this hearkens back to a 4,000 year old Chinese tradition of making a return visit to the homes of your parents or grandparents. On some occasions, however, families decide to travel. For instance, I have also previously celebrated the Spring Festival with my family in Sanya, which is the southernmost city on Hainan Island. As Spring Festival is held at the end of each winter, it is usually cold and dry with occasional snow in Beijing; therefore, it sometimes nice to get away, and to celebrate instead in Sanya’s sunshine. For my third time celebrating the Spring Festival I am also away from home on a British island; however the weather is more reminiscent of Beijing than it is of Sanya.
I reach my Ben Ming Nian for a second time: Ben Ming Nian refers to the year of the zodiac animal in which one was born. I was born in the Year of the Pig. It takes a 12-year cycle to reach one’s Ben Ming Nian and, according to Chinese astrology, people in their zodiac year are believed to offend Tai Sui, the God of Age, and incur his curse. It is believed to bring nothing but bad luck. Wearing Red is one of the things that people can do to fend off bad luck in a zodiac year and this year my mother went all out and bought red socks, red shoes, and red clothes for me to drive away bad luck and evil spirits. This is because red is one of the luckiest colors in Chinese culture, representing prosperity, loyalty, success, and happiness.
The first time to celebrate the Spring Festival away from home: I have been celebrating with my family since I was born. The whole family stays up waiting for the clock to strike 12 to say farewell to the passing year and make wishes for the coming year by setting off fireworks. Although it is my first time living away from my parents, not even 9781km can stop my excitement to celebrate the Spring Festival! The wide variety of Chinese New Year celebrations in UK, make it both memorable and comforting to celebrate the Spring Festival here, and it is wonderful to have the opportunity to celebrate with friends from all over the world.
Zefang Zhang (Fancy) studies MSc International Economics and is an international student from Beijing. In her free time she participates in a broad range of activities held by the university. As a Postgraduate Ambassador, she assists the Postgraduate team with projects to inspire the next generation of postgraduate students. Her friends describe her as enthusiastic, friendly and helpful, and she has proven these qualities while celebrating the Spring Festival as a Cultural Calendar Ambassador.