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Feature: Greeks celebrate Chinese New Year in Athens

Editor: Wang Lingxiao 丨Xinhua

02-01-2017 10:45 BJT

Full coverage: 2017 Spring Festival

ATHENS, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese New Year was in the spotlight of this weekend's events at the impressive, newly-founded Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) here, as Greeks celebrated the Year of the Rooster with joy.

On Saturday, 40 children aged four to eight attended a crafts workshop where they had the chance to make their own traditional Chinese paper kite, their first experience with Chinese culture.

Excited about their new decorative toys, the children played in the vast indoor and outdoor spaces of the cultural center, waving their paper kites enthusiastically.

"All the children really enjoyed this activity. They did it with their heart. It was creative. The outcome was marvellous and, by the way they are playing with it right now, I can tell they loved it," said Ioanna Mavridou, whose son and his friends attended the workshop, speaking to Xinhua.

"As a mother, I always seek to offer my son stimuli from other cultures and traditions, so that he can get in contact with different cultures than ours. The result is always remarkable. It broadens his horizons," she added.

On Sunday, adults were invited to make paper mache lanterns to take home with them, as a souvenir from their participation in the celebration. Afterwards, they decorated a wire dragon figure with paper strips and lighting, and attempted their first dragon dance. The dragon, symbolizing good luck, wisdom, and power, danced through the cultural center and along the beautiful esplanade, spreading joy and arousing curiosity among the visitors.

"It is something that, as far as I know, has never before happened in Greece. So, as soon as I heard about it, I thought it would be fun to join in," said Dimitris, who participated in the workshop with his girlfriend.

Both workshops were followed by two Chinese film screenings. The 2011 martial arts drama "Dragon," directed by Peter Chan, on Saturday, and "The Grandmaster," a 2013 film on the life of martial-arts grandmaster Ip Man, on Sunday, attracted a Greek audience eager to learn more about Chinese culture.

"Starting with the Chinese New Year, our goal is to introduce a new events section, through which we can initiate our visitors into foreign cultures, on the occasion of these cultures' biggest celebrations," SNFCC programming and production manager Gabriella Triantafyllis said in a recent interview. The organizers plan to make Chinese New Year festivities bigger every year, turning it into a colorful annual custom for locals.

Apart from fitting in the center's strategic goals, the small-scale celebration of this year also had its roots in Triantafyllis's personal experiences as a traveller.

"A few years back, I had the chance to be in Shanghai during the New Year celebrations and all the traditional customs, the fireworks etc. offered me a very intense and beautiful experience," Triantafyllis stressed.

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