Chinese in Rose-Monday Grand Parade: “Mainz Chinese”
One can’t talk about German carnivals without mentioning Mainz. At 11:11 am, Feb. 27th local time, the high point of the carnival -- “Rose Monday” Grand Parade officially started in this south-western German city, Mainz.
There were 154 parade teams participating in the “Rose Monday” Grand Parade in Mainz. Hundreds of floats and thousands of people formed the carnival procession which stretched as long as 9 kilometers. More than 550,000 people gathered in this beautiful city along the Rhine to enjoy the exciting atmosphere in person.
Members of the “Mainz Chinese” parade team waiting.
It was very genial to see a particular parade team in the procession－the “Mainz Chinese” parade team. The parade team was formed by the Confucius Institute at Frankfurt University, Peking Opera Club in Germany and Chinese-German Friendship Association. There were more than forty people in the parade team. No matter Chinese or Germans, they were all dressed in traditional Chinese costumes. Dancing to joyous Chinese folk music and percussion performance, the parade team distributed gifts such as small balls with Chinese character “Fu”, Chinese knots and fortune cookies with notes written with auspicious words in both Chinese and German.
“We formed a parade team to take part in the carnival for the first time two years ago. The team is named in local dialect, meaning ‘Mainz Chinese’.” said Christina Werum-Wang, Director of the Confucius Institute at Frankfurt University.
Christina Werum-Wang’s attachment to China dates back to over three decades ago, and it’s not exaggeration to describe her as a “China Hand”. She celebrates Chinese lunar New Year each year. However, as a native of Mainz, Christina Werum-Wang always faces a dilemma: the date of the most joyful carnival in her hometown often clashes with Chinese Spring Festival which falls between late January and early February, so she couldn’t afford to give attention to both events. “It's such a pity,” she said, “Obviously the two have so many things in common. For instance, the celebration of carnival involves music, singing and dancing, which are very popular among Chinese as well. German people have German festivals, and so do Chinese people. (If they are around the same time), we can absolutely celebrate them together. So, we had our try two years ago, and we did not expect it could be such a success. We were on Das Erste! We appeared in the public television’s live broadcast of Mainz Rose Monday Grand Parade.”
After that, many people on the street could recognize that Christina Werum-Wang was a member in the “Mainz Chinese” parade team, and greeted her. And many people were attracted and came to apply for the jobs at the Confucius Institute. This greatly encouraged Christina Werum-Wang and her colleagues, so they decided to make it as a tradition to participate in the parade every year. But in 2016, it was such a pity for them and other parade teams that had begun preparing for the parade almost half a year in advance because the parade had to be cancelled due to stormy weather.
Dancers in the parade team
Therefore, based on the ideas of Journey to the West in 2016 and the background of the Year of the Rooster in China, not only such popular and classic images as Monkey King and Monk Tang could be seen in the parade team, the rooster was also adopted as the mascot of the parade team, indicating a farewell to the Year of the Monkey and a welcome to the Year of the Rooster.
Su Ziqi, having taught Chinese in the Confucius Institute for 5 years, has participated in the parade as a member of the dance team before. This time, acting as the mascot, she said that “since the carnival is a celebration for all people, I just want to enjoy the day with all Germans. I started to prepare for the carnival from the beginning of this year, such as making gifts by hand, buying gifts from China and rehearsing dances. I do hope that we can make Germans more interested in China. Actually, most Germans know little about China, or even do not have interest to know about China at all. That’s why I try to inspire them to learn about China through our dances, enthusiasm and passion.”
Appearing in Rose Monday Grand Parade
Roger, 51, works for a chemical technology company in Frankfurt. He got the news about signing up for the “Mainz Chinese” parade team in Chinese class at the Confucius Institute. He was excited about being a vanguard of the parade team: “I only watched the parade on TV before and this is my first time to join in the parade team. It’s so happy to be here and feel the enthusiasm. Furthermore, walking in the parade, I also stand for China-Germany friendship.”
Jiang Suyun and Jiang Lulu, 17 years old and 15 years old respectively, are China-Germany mixed-race sisters. They learn dancing at the Oriental Arts School in Frankfurt. They said that, their dancing instructor recommended them to participate in the parade. “We danced Long Fan Dance. It’s really an impressive experience because we have only performed in the cultural festival in Frankfurt before. In Mainz, we are excited because more people join us in dancing and more people are watching our performance.”
The debut of “Chinese in Mainz” won applause from audiences. 22-year-old Nia said: “It’s wonderful. It’s just great to feel different culture from other places.”
This year marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Germany. Since 1972, China and Germany have carried out cultural exchanges in broader fields and the two countries are continuing to seek for new ideas and innovation. Christina Werum-Wang said that participating in the Mainz Carnival provided a great platform for Chinese to integrate into local society and also for Germans to know about Chinese culture and customs. Through cultural clash, complementation and integration, more possibilities of Chinese and German culture are tapped. “It’s a unique experience for Chinese to participate in such a traditional activity in Mainz. It is also a great example to demonstrate how foreigners to adapt themselves to the local society better, which is a deep-rooted problem for Germans. Without contradiction, conflicts or confrontation, Chinese and Germans, through joint efforts, can accomplish a special and great undertaking with only positive energy.”