Last night I was lucky enough to attend the Chinese New Year Festival in Heidelberg, hosted in the city’s ornate Kongresshaus building in the old town the event was a rare insight into East Asian culture.
This year Chinese New Year falls on Friday. The age old festivity usually lasts for fifteen days and celebrates the triumph of a village over the mythical beast Nian; the townspeople realising the creature was frightened of red proceeded hang bright red lanterns and ornaments outside their homes to repel the monster. During the festival red is often used to commemorate the tradition.
The Chinese New Year Festival in Heidelberg was an eclectic mix of German and Eastern culture. The presenters, German and Chinese students from the University of Heidelberg, effortlessly switched between the German and Chinese language.
The talent on display was of a high standard and the performances ranged from high energy rock ballads and comedy sketches, to mesmerising classical music pieces. It was also great to see martial arts acts accompanied by authentic Chinese musical instruments.
As the event reached its second half the mood drifted into suspense, as a lone Taekwondo performer prepared to break a solid block of wood with his bare heel. Held breaths were quickly released as the crowd erupted into applause. The performer celebrated with spinning kicks as the broken blocks of wood fled with the relieved volunteer backstage.
2014 is the year of the Horse which symbolises prosperity and friendship. The event was a great chance to experience a little of Chinese culture and it’s left me feeling optimistic for the year ahead in Heidelberg.
Happy Chinese New Year – may the horse be with you!