If it's Friday, you're with your friends and you just finished your classes or your exams and don't want to go home and sleep, but rather celebrate the weekend, I recommend this great place in Madrid: TragaTapas. For 3 euros you can get a bucket of 5 small San Miguel beers and spend the afternoon there or just start the evening, it's up to you. And of course, you can go there any other day of the week. The staff is really nice and they have a large selection of tapas and raciones (the larger dishes). We tried the chicken wings, sushi and the spicy potatoes, but there's much more! Go give it a look!
Saturday, February 11, 2012
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Who doesn't like tapas? Whether they come in the form of potato chips or peanuts or something really tasty - like all these traditional Spanish things I sometimes don't even know what they are, but always try them - everybody likes tapas! Right? You haven't been to Spain if you don't.
The Chinese New Year, known in China as the Spring Festival, is the most important festivity of the traditional Chinese holidays. The celebrations take place in other countries of Eastern Oceania, but also in Chinese communities from all over the world.
image from here
After the traditional lunisolar calendar of the Chinese, in 2012 the first day of the New Year was the 23rd of January, the first day of the first lunar month. This a time of family reunion for the Chinese. Family members gather at each other's homes for visits and shared meals, most significantly a feast on New Year's Eve. The celebrations last for 15 days and represent the period with the most human migration of the world, also called the "spring movement". During these day, billions of people travel back to their place of origin in order to spend the celebrations together with their families.
At Chinese New Year celebrations people dress in traditional costumes, usually red or yellow. They also decorate their houses with poems on red paper and give children "lucky money" in red envelopes. Red symbolizes fire, which according to legend can drive away bad luck. They also light fireworks, as tradition says that crackling flames drive away evil spirits.
The 15th day of the celebrations represents The Lantern Festival. People hang glowing lanterns in temples, and carry lanterns to an evening parade under the light of the full moon. Some of the lanterns may be works of art, painted with birds, animals, flowers, zodiac signs, and scenes from legend and history. In many areas the highlight of the lantern festival is the dragon dance. The dragon is typically made of silk, paper, and bamboo. Traditionally the dragon is held aloft by young men who dance as they guide the colorful beast through the streets.
Each year is a different animal, as the legend says that Buddha called all animals, but only 12 showed before him: the rat, the ox, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the goat, the monkey, the rooster, the dog and the pig. This year represents The Year of Dragon, a symbol of treasure and wisdom. It also said that people who are born under the sign of the Dragon are innovative, brave and passionate.
You can find more info on these celebrations here, here or here.
You can find more info on these celebrations here, here or here.
image from here
In the Community of Madrid more than 46.000 Chinese people celebrate the beginning of the New Year, the entrance in the year 4710, leaving behind the Rabbit and welcoming the Dragon. The Chinese Spring Festival started in Madrid on the 23nd of January, with parades on the streets between Puerta del Sol and Plaza de España, where every year, there is a special fair for the Chinese New Year. Here, people bring their traditional products, like food, drinks, jewellery and many more. They share their traditions and culture with every person in Madrid open to it.
The celebrations were made possible with the help of the Minister of Immigration, Volunteering and Cooperation of the Community of Madrid and Chinese associations from Spain. Authorities from The City Council and The Chinese Embassy were present at the festivities. The Chinese community of Madrid is one of the largest foreign community in the city and it has grown in the past years. Also, the small businesses, especially nutrition shops, owned by the Chinese take an important part in maintaining a stable community here. China is one of the main countries who imports products in Spain, being, together with Germany, a country with negative export-import balance (source).
PHOTO GALLERY OF THE FAIR IN PLAZA DE ESPAÑA
(click on arrows to view fullscreen)
The president of The Nutrition Association of Chinese in Spain, Pedro Zhang said that with their actions they want to "bring good fortune to Spain" and "the necessary strength to come out of the crisis". Another Chinese woman, who was selling her products in Plaza de España also mentioned the importance of "selling fortune" to the country of Spain, because it doesn't find itself in a good place right now (source).
Another tradition the Chinese community has brought here in Madrid is choosing Miss China during the celebrations. If you want to see what it takes to bring home the title, you can find more about it here.
It seems like the Spanish people are very open to other cultures and traditions. Madrid is one of the cities with the higher concentration of foreigners in Spain and it can be seen that it respects the habits of others, wherever they come from. Not only they held place for such vast festivities with the coming of the Chinese New Year, but they also took part in it. The same way Spanish people like to make their culture and traditions known for everybody who comes visit, they also want to find out about everybody else's habits. The streets were full of locals who tasted the food, bought the products and took part in the festivities. Whether it's from curiosity, open-mindness or simply wanting to have fun, it is fair to say that what they showed during these celebrations is more than just tolerance. They accept you here and welcome you with your whole cultural baggage, wherever you're from. It is, indeed a multicultural city.
How about the Chinese students living here, in Madrid? For the first time, this year held place to a special Chinese celebration for the students at the Polytechnic University of Madrid. The Chinese Students Association of Madrid organized a festivity at The Superior Technical School of Industrial Engineering on the 20th of January. The objective of these celebrations was to strengthen and improve the intercultural communication between young people from the two countries. Wang, the organizer of the event, said the Chinese students "miss their families, and that is why we organized these festivities, so that they can feel the warmth of home and not forget our own culture and tradition". Zhang Mingming, a student from UPM declared that "Thanks to the Student Association of Madrid that organized this celebration of the New Year we no longer feel so lonely in Spain. We are very happy" (read more)
Right now, there are about one thousand Chinese students in the universities of Madrid, the total number of Chinese students in the country being multiplied by more than 10 in the last years. According to the data presented by the China Embassy in Spain, while in 2002 there were 500 Chinese students living in Spain, now that number has increased to 5.500.
Unfortunately, the distance between Spain and China is very big, the two countries being separated by 9.463 kilometres. So it's not that easy to travel back and forth in between the two. Not to mention the difference in calendars. The Chinese living in Europe can't afford to come back home and reunite with their families during the Spring Festival, because they do not have time off.
Fortunately, Spain has been very open to its foreigners, including the Chinese. We met with 3 girls from China who are students in Madrid. One of them came here 2 and a half years ago and the other ones have been staying here for one year and a half. They shared their thoughts and experiences regarding the Chinese celebrations and traditions they had back home and also talked to us about how they feel here and how they celebrated the New Year in Madrid. What's the difference in a foreign country? What do they think of how it was celebrated in Madrid? Do they feel like they belong here?
If you want to see the full interviews, you can find them here: Esperanza, Liza and Zi-han.
© All photos and videos are property and copyright of Ioana Carp, unless mentioned otherwise.
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Friday, January 27, 2012
This is the first part of a series of short videos that will approach the themes of bars, cafés, clubs, drinks, tapas and more. For students of course! More to come. More interesting and more coherent, hopefully.