Flowing waters listen to words of longing, and willow branches witness farewells on Qixi. On August 21st, "Meeting in the Lotus Pond, Hearts Aligned at Dusk" – a series of events celebrating the traditional Chinese Qixi Festival – took place in the Gangcheng District of Jinan City. Abby from Ghana, a foreign friend, and Binna Abby, a student from Shandong University who loves Hanfu culture, donned traditional Chinese Hanfu attire. Together with Chinese friends who share an affinity for Hanfu culture, they spent the Qixi Festival immersing themselves in the charm of Chinese culture and experiencing a "Chinese-style romance."
At the event, Abby from Ghana and the young people from China and abroad present at the scene seemed to "travel through time" in an instant. Dressed in Hanfu, they transformed into elegant gentlemen and graceful ladies, participating in traditional games like pot throwing, riddle guessing, and hand-painted fans. These activities bridged the distance between them as they played, allowing them to experience a unique ancient-style gathering at the Zilin Academy.
The riddle-guessing activity kicked off amid joyful laughter. "I know this one, it's a peanut, right?" After interpreting the clues through gestures and drawings, Abby Abby fluently expressed the answer in Chinese. They wandered among the riddles, sometimes pondering and sometimes laughing, discussing the riddle's meanings and enjoying the puzzle-solving fun.
"One arrow in the pot, a lifetime of peace; two arrows in the pot, everything goes well." In the pot-throwing area among the flowers, young people from China and abroad held arrows, simultaneously throwing them into the pot. If the total score reached six points, they would receive a gift. "This is Cupid's arrow!" During the game, the young participants engaged in a "mini theater," incorporating props in creative ways that earned them applause from the audience.
In the hand-painted fan activity, partners discussed color mixing, outlining, and coloring techniques, rendering intricate designs on their fans. Each fan bore unique creativity, transforming into elegant artworks in their hands.
Abby and the young people deepened their friendships through interaction, harvested genuine feelings through fun games, and rekindled traditional romance in celebrating Qixi. Their collaboration made Qixi return to its traditional romantic roots, infusing Sino-foreign relations with vivid colors. "This is the first time I've felt Chinese traditional culture with so many friends in the garden. The activities were so interesting, and the Chinese elements were so strong. It's fantastic! I hope to learn more about Chinese traditional culture and customs, and spend more traditional holidays in China in the future," said Abby.
Through exchanging and learning about Chinese Qixi customs and the tradition of making qiaoguo crafts, Abby expressed her desire to use the protection and development of intangible cultural heritage as a starting point, delving deeply into and widely spreading Chinese folk culture from her perspective and abilities. She believes that, with the collective efforts of friends from different countries and regions, of varying ethnicities, Chinese traditional culture will not only experience a resurgence domestically but will also attract people from around the world to actively engage and share, achieving cultural integration and global recognition of Chinese culture.
Civilizations prosper through exchanges and mutual learning. Through various traditional folk arts, this Qixi event showcased the wisdom and labor achievements of the vast working people in China to foreign friends, helping to build friendships, deepen understanding, and strengthen bonds. Not only did it allow international friends in Jinan to witness the significant development and changes in both Jinan and China through this cultural window, but it also enabled more foreign friends to understand and appreciate Jinan, presenting a vivid and colorful Jinan from the perspective and lens of foreign friends to the world.