Hi, Glasgow, Happy New year 兔 you!

Published: 25 January 2023

UNESCO RILA PhD student Hope sends out a New Year greeting.

By: Hsiao-Chiang Wang (Hope)

There is a piece of poetry that says, “獨在異鄉為異客,每逢佳節倍思親 (Being alone in a strange place as an outsider, I miss my dear ones whenever there is a festival.)” which echoes feelings by many New Scots and International students. However, being away from our country does not mean we are rootless. On the contrary, it is the chance to extend our roots and blossom in other places.

This year, I had a wonderful Lunar New year in Glasgow, and I want to share my way of celebrating and spreading the joy of our festival with you.

Image: In Chinese culture, this year is the Year of the Rabbit. Source: Lupin

Fastening the social tie

This year, I brought my cat to Glasgow to live with us, but I could not get all my family to be with me. Nevertheless, my memory and culture allowed me to make my home in Glasgow.

I contact my Taiwan family in the morning, seeing their New Year’s feast and hearing their laughter. Happiness is conveyed through the screen without a border.

When I hang up the phone, I also know I should do something in Glasgow. My heritage is my home, I carry it with me. Initially, we wanted to make dumplings, hot pot, and a pile of traditional Taiwanese dishes. Still, we changed the recipes to include local ingredients of dumplings and freestyled in a creative manner and, surprisingly, it tasted yummy. Theoretically, I did not leave home. I broadened my home zone.

Building a Cultural bridge

People are constantly moving and spreading cultural seeds. The city also celebrates Lunar New Year as a festival full of joy, like we celebrate Christmas as a day full of surprises. I went to the Burrell Collection to participate in their series of celebrations. Many families enjoyed making lanterns, practising calligraphy, and playing puppet drama. Children got their faces painted with satisfied smiles. Honestly, there are more authentic ways to celebrate Lunar New Year. Many cultural elements are simplified and transferred into quick experiences in the workshops. However, these activities might bury seeds in people’s minds, encouraging people to learn more from each other. I am happy to see children here writing calligraphy and having artistic experiences. Museums and other cultural institutions are no longer curiosity cabinets but open forums for the public to understand and respect diverse cultures.

Creating Unexpected Connections

Regarding the most crucial part of Lunar New Year’s Eve, instead of having a big evening dinner, my partner and I decided to spend the evening participating in the Multicultural Ceilidh in the Garnethill Multicultural Centre. We ate shortbread, haggis and pizza and danced with new and old friends. I learned Scottish Cèilidh dancing and traditional dances from Ukraine, Iran, and Afghanistan. People from different places in the world had a fantastic night.

I told the host that that night was our New Year's Eve, so Marzanna gave us her best wishes. Many people said “Happy New Year” to me with different accents. I did not receive red envelopes as usual but receiving voices with kindness is more valuable.

In the end, I received an email from Alison. Warm words conveyed care between the lines. I enjoyed hot tea and quiet time spent reading emails at my home in Glasgow, a much colder city than my hometown. Suddenly, another poem flooded my mind; it is “此心安處是吾鄉! (Where there is Ease, there is Home)” by poet蘇軾Su Shi.

I understand it is a privilege to have ordinary happiness and find peace, but I really hope the city and the world can always have a place for people to feel at home. In my hometown, I would usually write a couplet to give new hope for the new year. So, I also write down a couplet for UNESCO RILA and all people:

願四海昇平無戰事 ( a world is without war but peaceful)

祈萬民同心有新希 ( all people are with hope and gleeful)

Image: The best wish for the year 2023. Source: Lupin & Hope

First published: 25 January 2023