With fireworks, lion dance, and a festival of tastes, Serbians and overseas Chinese welcomed the Chinese Lunar New Year in Belgrade on Saturday.
The central celebration welcoming the Year of the Rabbit held at the Kalemegdan Fortress in Belgrade gathered several hundreds of people, including Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and the Chinese Ambassador to Serbia Chen Bo, who were all entertained by lion dancers who just flew here from China.
“We are (the Lion Dance team) from the Dong Fang Wu Shu School in Dongming County, Shandong Province, and we came to Serbia to show our traditional Chinese culture and bring a lot of flavors of the Chinese New Year to Serbia,” Yang Zhengqiang, one of the lion dancers told Xinhua.
At the beginning of the celebration, Brnabic said that the New Year celebrations across the country display the love of the Serbian people towards the Chinese.
“On behalf of our people I wish you (China and Chinese people) good health, luck, and many new economic achievements,” she said, pledging to further strengthen the “iron-clad friendship” between China and Serbia.
She thanked China’s support to Serbia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as the selfless support and assistance amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chen said that this traditional cultural manifestation is the embodiment of the “iron-clad friendship” between the two peoples, who, although geographically far away, are getting closer.
“In the past year, we jointly built a fast railway, highways, opened new factories and started direct flights, and increased bilateral trade. We strive towards economic development and a better life, while the friendship between people represents a foundation for our cooperation in all areas,” Chen said.
After the speeches, the gathered people counted the seconds until the grandiose fireworks announced midnight in Beijing, China, and later marched to the Republic Square, where the Festival of Tastes of the Belt and Road is being held, with traditional food from the countries that participated in the Belt and Road Initiative.
“This is not my first time trying Chinese food — I love it very much. We were late for the fireworks, but the children loved the lion dance,” said one young mother who brought her two children to the festival.
Manuela, a tourist from Germany said that she liked the festival and was “super happy” to celebrate with Chinese and Serbian people.
“I was super excited because this is my first time seeing the Chinese New Year celebration and the lion dance, as well as a little Kong Fu show,” said the German girl, who is also practicing Kung Fu (martial arts).
Ana Leginj who came from the vicinity of Novi Sad, Serbia’s second-largest city, just to attend the celebration for the first time.
“It was phenomenal, especially the lion dance, it is really nicely imagined, together with the culinary offer,” she said.
The message “Happy Chinese New Year” was broadcast from the Belgrade Tower, the tallest building in this part of the Balkans.
Besides Belgrade, the celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year will be held in Serbia’s other large cities.
The festivities in Serbia, held here for the fifth consecutive year — will continue until Jan. 26.