The Leidener

A Blog by International Students at Leiden University

Throwback: China in The Hague and sweet memories of celebration

The last few months have been Hell! My savings are finishing, looking for a job is hard when you’re still studying and don’t have much time, and especially THESIS!! It sounds obvious that I haven’t had much time to travel, go out or celebrate anything, despite the nice warmer weather and the many festivities in the Netherlands in the months of April and May. This is the reason why I decided to recollect here my “most recent” and fondly remembered celebration day, and since I’m graduating soon I thought of mentioning it here before my term in The Leidener expires. “Most recent” is in quotation marks because the day was actually months ago, on February 13th 2016, and this should say enough about the crazy months spent writing a Master’s thesis and forgetting about any kind of social life. On that day, so long ago, I went to The Hague for the Chinese New Year’s celebrations, to get a taste of my beloved China, which I miss so much!

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By the way, for those who are not familiar with East Asian celebrations, the festival we call “Chinese New Year” is actually the Spring Festival, celebrated all over East and Southeast Asia. It actually celebrates the beginning of the lunar year, that’s why the dates of the Festival change from year to year, since the lunar calendar does not correspond exactly to the Gregorian calendar that we use. Thanks to the diasporas in the West, virtually every European country holds smaller celebrations of the New Year, though none of them reaches the grandiosity of Chinese and other East Asian countries’ festivities! The lunar new year in 2016 fell on February 8th, however we’re in the West and celebrations need to accommodate our lifestyles and especially working schedules, therefore The Hague held its Chinese New Year’s celebration the following Saturday, when everyone could just go out and have a nice time.

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Me with the snake (), my Chinese zodiac sign (thanks to Domi for the pic).

The celebrations were actually pretty modest: there were firecrackers, a small lion and dragon dance and the like, all performed in the relatively small Chinatown, but it was nice. Despite the simplicity of the celebrations, I think it was nonetheless a nice taste of home for all those people coming from those countries where the Spring Festival is really a big thing. It is not always easy to be far away from home, especially in such times when all families are meant to be together and reunite even after a long time apart, so students who come to Leiden university are still able to come together like a big extended family, and spend this joyous festival in an atmosphere that reminds of home. For us, as students of China and East Asia, it was a must! I have to say, it was nice to go around the stalls and remember the same dishes served up at rock festivals in Beijing, it really did feel like going back in time to the period I liked most in my life, when I was in the country I love so much! Moreover, I feel like making a suggestion here for everyone who is Chinese and misses real food from home, for everyone who went to China and loved the food so much that they go crazy when it’s so impossible to find it anywhere else in the world, and also for those who have never tried it but want to taste the real deal: the Full Moon restaurant in The Hague’s Chinatown. That’s the most authentic Chinese food I have ever found outside of China, and one of my favourite spots to eat here in the Netherlands! Be sure not to miss it if you ever happen to be in The Hague.

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The China gang: Alex, Stefania, Dominika & me in The Hague’s Chinatown (thanks to Domi for the pic).

Enjoy your Summer holidays, you who can, and always have fun!

-Zoe

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