Stay­ing con­nected away from home

Over­seas Chi­nese make do with lo­cal events to cel­e­brate

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By XI­AOLIXIN and YANG YAO

As their most sig­nif­i­cant hol­i­day of the year, Spring Fes­ti­val is al­ways a time for fam­ily re­unions by Chi­nese peo­ple across the globe.

But many Chi­nese stu­dents study­ing abroad will not be able to en­joy the tra­di­tional meal with their ex­tended fam­ily, ac­com­pa­nied with warm con­ver­sa­tion and laugh­ter, and watch­ing the an­nual Spring Fes­ti­val TV gala.

“The class sched­ule is so tight that there is not re­ally much time for us to even think of Chi­nese New Year’s Eve rit­u­als,” said Jin Yankun, 25, who left Shang­hai three years ago to Los An­ge­les for fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion.

Jin said it is not easy to feel the Chi­nese New Year mood in LA even with the hol­i­day close.

“How­ever, I miss the Chi­nese New Year’s Eve re­u­nion din­ner,” he said. “So I dis­cussed a din­ner plan about two weeks ago with my friends, asked my mom about her recipes on WeChat, and went to Chi­nese gro­ceries for in­gre­di­ents.”

Last year, Jin and his friends also hosted a din­ner on the eve of Chi­nese New Year.

Many over­seas Chi­nese stu­dents may not have fol­lowed Spring Fes­ti­val cus­toms while they were still in China. But feel­ing homesick might spur them to re­visit th­ese prac­tices abroad. Eat­ing Chi­nese food to­gether also of­fers a per­fect op­por­tu­nity to know more about lo­cal cus­toms and cul­tures around China. Lin said he learned how to make dumplings from a class­mate from North China.

“We don’t re­ally have dumplings dur­ing Spring Fes­ti­val in the south, so it is a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence of the cus­toms in the north,” he said.

“When all the dishes we pre­pared are served on the ta­ble, there is a sense of fa­mil­iar­ity with the strange­ness.”

“The dishes and food are al­most the same with what we have at home. But we had to watch the Spring Fes­ti­val gala on the lap­top, not on the TV as we did back at home,” he said.

For Gao Hanmo, a stu­dent with UC Berke­ley who has stayed in San Fran­cisco since 2010, Chi­nese New Year in the city can be even more tra­di­tional than how it is in China, thanks to all sorts of cel­e­bra­tions.

“There is a big Chi­nese New Year Pa­rade ev­ery year. I went there once, it was quite lively. They have all the Chi­nese el­e­ments, in­clud­ing lanterns, dragon and lion dances,” Gao said. “But it is still quite dif­fer­ent, so I feel some­how dis­con­nected.”

Ray­mond Ip, a 32-year-old who mi­grated to Canada from Hong Kong, feels sim­i­lar. Ip came to Canada with his fam­ily 15 years ago and lives in Ed­mon­ton, cap­i­tal of Al­berta, while his par­ents live in Van­cou­ver, Bri­tish Columbia.

“First and fore­most, I think there are a lot fewer peo­ple ac­tu­ally cel­e­brat­ing, so the at­mos­phere feels very dif­fer­ent from that in Hong Kong,” he said.

This year’s Spring Fes­ti­val is of­fi­cially on Feb 19, a Thurs­day, and there is no legal hol­i­day in Canada for the day. Some Chi­nese in Canada still plan to have a cel­e­bra­tory din­ner with their fam­i­lies. More peo­ple might opt to have din­ner on the week­end in­stead, Ip said.

“We would al­ways go out to Chi­nese restau­rants or get to­gether and pre­pare a tra­di­tional Chi­nese New Year meal with all the dumplings and rice cakes,” he said. “And the Lu­nar New Year is pretty much over then.”

A lot of lo­cal Chi­nese peo­ple in town ac­tu­ally do not take part in its Chi­nese New Year events and those who fre­quently go are lo­cal Cana­di­ans, he said.

“They are Chi­nese cul­ture and food fans for the most part,” he said.

“Es­pe­cially since th­ese events take place in public ar­eas, lo­cal peo­ple are drawn in to see what the buzz is all about.” Con­tact the writer at xi­aolixin@chi­ and yangyao@chi­

A young cou­ple

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