Monday, October 2, 2023
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Couplets, dumplings and wishes

CANBERRA (XINHUA) – When Spring Festival comes as Australia is plagued by COVID-19, the way people celebrate would definitely change. However, for the overseas Chinese, new year decoration, dumplings and homesickness are as usual.

Wang Jiao has lived in Canberra for 16 years. His 12-year-old daughter Anastasia is learning skating and has won numerous prizes in the sport.

Apart from eating dumplings for the Spring Festival, the family also looked forward to watching the Winter Olympics.

“This is the first time China hosts the Winter Olympics, which coincides with the Spring Festival this year,” said Wang. “Hopefully the occasion could help popularise Chinese culture.”

Due to concern of the COVID-19, this year the family could not gather with friends, nor could they go back to China to meet relatives. Wang said he would have a video chat with others, while enjoying his leisure time with his children.

Switching on his laptop, he showed Anastasia different winter sports at the Olympics.

While eager to see the competitions, the girl would like to send her greetings to the Olympic athletes, “Good luck to the athletes,” she said. “I hope you have a great time there, and happy Chinese New Year.”

Dumplings prepared by Zhang Xiaojun at her home in Canberra, Australia. PHOTOS: XINHUA
Streets decorated with lanterns to welcome the Spring Festival in Canberra, Australia

Zhang Xiaojun, a 55-year-old Chinese woman who has been living in Canberra since 1988, is decorating her home with paper lanterns, traditional festive paper-cuts and couplets.

In the past decades, she kept the Cantonese tradition in preparing dinner on the Spring Festival eve.

She would make a dish with black moss, which, in Chinese, sounds like “making a fortune”.

She would also cook a fish, which symbolises prosperity and abundance in Chinese.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, her daughter who is working in Melbourne is unable to come back for a family reunion, while her son at the University of New South Wales could only be home for two days.

“This time we will celebrate on a smaller scale,” Zhang said.

Although she invited fewer guests this year, her 89-year-old mom would like to have the house decorated in a traditional festive way.

Before the pandemic, each year they would go back to China, visiting relatives and friends, while buying Spring Festival decorating stuff, which would be used in the next couple of years. “China has changed a lot throughout the years,” said Zhang, whose hometown Guangzhou is the capital city of the now booming Guangdong Province in south China.

“The old buildings in Guangzhou were torn down, and new skyscrapers were erected. Each time I went back, I marvelled at the development of my hometown,” she said.

The view was shared by Wu Penghui, owner of the Gooda Creek mushroom farm, which is about 30-minute drive from Canberra.

From Gutian, a small town in east China’s Fujian Province which was famed for growing mushrooms, Wu arrived in Australia in 2006. Now the annual output of mushroom on his farm could reach 700 tonnes.

The 58-year-old businessman opened a supermarket at the end of 2020.

“As China develops, more Chinese people come to Australia to study and work,” he said.

“They have high demand in Chinese food ingredients, which is why our mushroom
sells well.”

In the past, Wu would join with his fellow townsmen from Fujian for Spring Festival celebration, having a big party in a restaurant and singing traditional Fujian songs. But this year he would only celebrate with his own family.

He now has two grandchildren, with the youngest one only eight months old. The baby’s great grandparents in China have never met her since she was born.

“Hopefully in the new year, the COVID-19 could be under control, so that travelling between China and Australia could be easier,” Wu said.

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