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Spring Festival celebrated in Tehran

XINHUA | Updated: 2023-02-01 08:43
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TEHRAN — It was the first time for many of the Chinese-language majors at the University of Tehran in Iran to celebrate Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, and have a personal experience of the country's cultural practices, when the Confucius Institute held an outdoor class on Jan 18 at a park in the Iranian capital.

This event provided a "very precious opportunity", says Mobina Moradkhani, a third-year Chinese major, adding that Iranian students have long hoped to participate in such cultural activities and experience the atmosphere of Chinese New Year.

Once the students saw Chinese New Year decorations like couplets and lanterns, big smiles radiated from their faces, and they didn't hesitate to pose for pictures with the red decorations.

Li Mei, Chinese director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Tehran, says that, since the COVID-19 outbreak more than three years ago, her Confucius Institute has mainly carried out online Chinese lessons and cultural activities, which has encountered many difficulties.

Therefore, Spring Festival provided an opportunity to make up for lost time and the lack of face-to-face communication over the past few years, Li adds.

Through the get-together, Iranian students are expected to improve their understanding of Chinese culture and Spring Festival, she says.

In the "culture class", the teachers explained the traditions of Chinese New Year, while the Iranian youngsters followed their example by clasping their hands in their fists and bowing slightly to pay New Year greetings in the Chinese way to each other.

Zeynab Ghaoorian, a first-year student at the Confucius Institute, was most surprised by the tradition of lucky money. When Iranians celebrate Nowruz, or Iranian New Year, elders also give similar monetary gifts to the younger generations.

"It's really nice that the two countries have almost the same culture," she says.

For Moradkhani, the biggest feature of the traditional New Year in both countries is the "emphasis on family".

"Chinese Spring Festival and Iranian Nowruz festival have a lot in common," she notes. "We both value family very much."

Teachers from the Confucius Institute also cut the Chinese character fu meaning "good fortune" with paper, wrote calligraphy, and practiced tai chi, a Chinese martial art, to showcase Chinese culture in different ways to the Iranian students.

After interpreting the meaning of the Chinese character fu, Li Li, a teacher, wrote fu with a Chinese brush, spreading the artistic charm of Chinese calligraphy to her students.

According to Li Li, the Confucius Institute started a calligraphy course for first-year students majoring in Chinese this semester. After a semester of learning, students have developed a strong interest in Chinese calligraphy.

Meanwhile, another teacher Wang Xinhua's tai chi demonstration also impressed many. He opened the class on the spot and helped two students correct their kung fu movement.

Ghaoorian says she watched kung fu in short videos before, but seeing it performed live was an eye-opener.

"Through tai chi exercises, students can improve their physical well-being and understand Chinese culture," says Wang, who plans to start a training camp for students in the new semester.

In Li Mei's opinion, the "culture class" allowed students to watch and participate in the activities of Chinese people celebrating Spring Festival, which will inspire their greater interest in learning Chinese.

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