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Confucius Institute at Sofia University Celebrates the Chinese New Year

The annual celebration marking the Chinese New Year took place at the Confucius Institute at Sofia University. According to the Chinese tradition the year of 2016 is the year of the Red (fiery) monkey and it formally starts on 8th February.

Official guests of the event were HE Mrs Margarita Popova, Vice President of the Republic of Bulgaria, HE Wei Jinhua, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to this country, Yuen Dzigan, first secretary and director of the education department at the Chinese Embassy. The event was attended by faculty, university and school students.

Mrs Margarita Popova, Vice President of the Republic of Bulgaria, congratulated everyone present on the New Year and noted that the New Year is always the point when everyone of us strikes a balance and thinks about the present and the future. She expressed her great respect for the holiday of the Chinese people and remarked that we should all think as to how we should contribute to the fact that people would love, feel closer and understand each other. Margarita Popova emphasized that first and foremost we should live in peace, love and hope.


She spoke about the strength of the generation bond and appealed to go back in history and decide what we should devote our efforts to and how we should live in order to be happy in the world of today. Margarita Popova pointed out that the life of the reasoning, wise man should aim at building, not destroying, loving and not hating, being humble and aware of the fact that one has just enough one can carry: the most important part should be given to noble causes and love.

HE Wei Jinhua, the Ambassador of China to this country, expressed his joy of being present at the Sofia Confucius Institute on the eve of the Chinese New Year. He said that the past year had been very successful for the Sofia Confucius Institute and recalled the fact that the Confucius Institute at Sofia University had been raised to the status of a Model for development of the Confucius institutes. Such a status has been given only to 14 of more than 475 institutes in the world.


Wei Dzinhua expressed his gratitude to all those who had been of help to the Institute and had promoted its development. He expressed his hope that the Institute would play an ever more important role in the development the bilateral relations between Bulgaria and China and wished that during the new year the Sofia Confucius Institute continue meeting actively and attractively the needs and demands of the Bulgarian people to study the Chinese language.


Aksiniya Koleva, Director of the Sofia Confucius Institute, thanked all the guests who had decided to participate in the celebration. She expressed her hope that although far away from their home the Chinese friends of the Institute can feel the cosy home atmosphere in the midst of their beloved ones. Mrs Koleva recounted that since ancient times the feast of spring, as the Chinese moon New Year is also referred to, has been the most important and eagerly awaited holiday in the Chinese calendar. Its precise date is determined by the phases of the moon and it always coincides with the second new moon after the winter solstice. The new year festivities in China are widely attended by the public and continue, almost unceasingly, until the 14th day of the first lunar month, the Lantern Festival. Mrs Koleva remarked that the beginnings of the feast go back to the ancient history of China and nowadays it epitomizes the respect for the aged day traditions and popular belief, the unity of the family which Chinese society has firmly preserved till our time. The fiery monkey is a symbol of the dynamic and constant movement, Aksiniya Koleva added, and wished that the New Year bring us plenty of health, dynamism and happiness.


The celebration continued with a concert performed by students from schools in the capital where the Chinese language is taught: William Gladstone High School, Bacho Kiro High School, Professor Vasil Zlatarski High School, Elisaveta Bagryana High School, Hristo and Evlogi Georgievi High School, the Panda Bulgarian-Chinese Educational Center. The guests enjoyed the opportunity to listen to performances of Sofia opera soloists.


The prominent Bulgarian translator from Chinese Petko Hinov presented two outstanding pieces of Chinese literature that had been translated by him in Bulgarian: The Dream of the Red Chamber and My Country and My People. Petko Hinov is a writer, a poet, a translator, a lecturer and one of the best experts on China. His are the translations of Mo Yan’s Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out, the latter was the 2012 Nobel Prize Winner for Literature, and Lin Yutang’s My Country and My People. For the translation of Tsao Syuetsin’s masterpiece The Dream of the Red Chamber (Vol. I) Petko Hinov was awarded the 2015 Hristo G. Danov Prize for translation.

Petko Hinov pointed out that Lin Yutang dedicated the better half of his life to the construction of a philosophical and literary bridge between China and the Anglo-Saxon world. His erudite and optimistic view of Chinese culture, literature, history and philosophy makes his books, translated in English, bestsellers during the former half of the XXth century. According to him, Lin Yutang was a traditionally educated erudite, a seminal writer, a brilliant man of letters whose books view China from its internal spiritual and existential perspective. The book provides a key to the door of the pristine hidden world of China, Hinov added, and stressed that it provides the best insightful shortcut introducing the reader to the domain of Chinese studies: “Chinese studies is a boundless subject and it is impossible to embrace it. It is like a deep river and Lin Yutang puts us in the middle of it by means of his huge erudition. It is a solid boulder that can be used both as a stepping stone and also as a vantage point from where we can enjoy the view of the river both upstream and downstream”.


The illustrations and the photo material of the book My Country and My People have been selected by Petko Hinov and show the China of the XIXth and XXth centuries, the period Lin Yutang describes in his book. Petko Hinov read a short excerpt representing Lin Yutang’s impression of Tsao Tsyuesin’s The Dream of the Red Chamber . According to him, the book is one of the greatest in depicting human characters, profound humaneness, magnificent style and the realness of the narrated plot. In terms of the quantity and grandeur of the works dedicated to the novel it can be compared to the works on Shakespeare and Goethe.

Petko Hinov read an excerpt of one of the most memorable parts of the book and the viewers watched parts of one of the latest film versions of The Dream of the Red Chamber.

The guests at the celebration of the Confucius Institute had the opportunity to see the Faces of China Exhibition mounted by architect Marina Vasileva, a student at the Sofia Confucius Institute; it features photos made during her stay in China.