Yuri (left) and journalist at the scene.
“Cross Tongji Bridge, troubles go away!(行通济, 冇闭翳)” Flocks of people shouted out their wish when they crossed Tongji Bridge on the Lantern Festival, which is a popular folk custom that has lasted for centuries. Among them were many foreigners who were fascinated by Lingnan culture.
Lettuces are bought not for making salad
Yuri and his friends
“It’s amazing!” Waving a small windmill, Yuri was excited at the bustling scene. Yuri is a stout man from South Africa. Though he had worked as a teacher trainer in Foshan for five years, he had never crossed Tongji Bridge on the Lantern Festival. Some of his Chinese friends invited him to cross the bridge this year and he found it’s a big event.
“Take a photo of my T-shirt!” To celebrate the festival with his friends, Yuri wore a special T-shirt on which were written “Sons of Foshan””Guangdong Original”. The Lantern Festival parade impressed Yuri with beautiful lanterns and enormous windmills.
Yuri was curious about the lettuces carried by the tourists. “Are they going to make salad?” said Yuri, with a sense of humor. Journalist then told him the pronunciation of lettuce in Chinese is similar with that of “生财”, i.e. making money. People carry lettuce for good lucks.
When Yuri was told that if one wants troubles to go away one should cross Tongji Bridge on the Lantern Festival for three years in a row, he said he might cross the bridge again next year.
Having lived in Foshan for 5 years, Yuri has become a “Foshan expert”. He likes morning tea and dim sum and he’s even a regular customer of Xianmiao Roast Chicken. And of course , he has many Chinese friends.
After he was told that Foshan News was building an English news website “Foshan China”, Yuri said it was what the foreigners needed. He hoped “Foshan China” could offer daily news about everything happening around him, including local news, weather, cultural activities and so on.
"Cheers!" When crossing Tongji Bridge, he took photos with his friends to catch this precious moment.
More efforts should be made to promote Foshan
Giovanni Lovisetti, a handsome Italian gentleman, has worked for Foshan Investment Promotion Agency for two years. It’s his second time to cross Tongji Bridge.
Carrying a windmill in hand, Giovanni began to tell journalist about his experience in China. Before he came to Foshan, he had been to many major cities in China, such as Beijing and Shanghai. After getting a master’s degree in Tsinghua University, he was informed that Foshan government intended to hire some foreigners and he decided to take the chance.
In Giovanni’s opinion, Foshan, as a second-tier city, has more opportunities for investors and fortune seekers, compared with its neighbor, Guangzhou. And Foshan’s air quality is much better than some megalopolis such as Beijing. For him, Foshan is a comfortable city to live and work. “As an inclusive city, Foshan is attractive to foreigners.” said Giovanni.
“But Foshan needs to put more effort to promote its charms.” Giovanni complained that there were few online English guides on the tourist destinations except for Ancestral Temple, Ancient Nanfeng Klin and Xiqiao Mountain. He knows little about where to go for the weekend in Foshan, so he often goes to Guangzhou to have fun with his friends.
As a foreign expert working for Chinese government, Giovanni had been interviewed for many times. He said that before long a camera crew of China Central Television had documented him and his foreign colleagues for three days and the documentary was about to be aired next month.
As night approached, lanterns lighted up the city. An increasing number of tourists headed to Tongji Bridge, with their wishes for good lucks.
Crossing Tongji Bridge on the Lantern Festival, a folk custom that rose up in the Qing Dynasty, had faded from the end of the Qing Dynasty to the early 1990s. However, its glamour revived in mid 1990s and since Foshan government rebuilt Tongji Bridge in 2001, this folk custom has gradually become a big Lunar New Year event for people of Pearl River Delta. About seven hundred thousands people took part in this activity last year.
Lantern Festival Parade: Thousands Take to Streets
A series of "Love-of-Foshan themed" activities was held in Foshan on the Lantern Festival, including a photo exhibition on Foshan's charity undertaking, a charity fair, an award ceremony and a Lantern Festival parade.
The photo exhibition, held in Jishi Plaza(济世广场) near Tongji Bridge, was a display of charity facts and figures in Foshan. In the charity fair, which was also located in Jishi Plaza, 23 charitable institutions interacted with tourists, trying to spread the concept of modern charity and encourage the mass to partake in charity undertaking.
The award ceremony for charitable institutions, enterprises and individuals were held in the hall of the government building in the afternoon on Saturday. Several individuals received the Golden Rose Prize for their persistent efforts in charity undertaking. Enterprises and institutions devoted to promote charity were given the Red Rose Prize.
Afterwards, the Lantern Festival parade began. Main leaders of Foshan government led the parade from outside the parking lot of the government building. It followed a route along the government building, Lingnan Avenue, Tongji Road and Tongji Bridge.
Written by Morly