Get ready for the unheard-of celebrations of the Chinese new year in Brussels this weekend. They will start at the Grand Place at 14.00 h on Saturday, 6th February and will involved more than 400 dancers and musicians. Even the Manneken Pis will be dressed in traditional Chinese costumes!
More activities will be organised by the Chinese Cultural Center next week. It is a pity that the Far East Museums of Brussels, the Chinese pavilion and the Japanese tower, have been closed for the last two years and there is no announced date of their reopening. There is Chinese money for the new year’s celebrations but there is no Belgian money to preserve Brussel’s rich heritage.
I wonder how the Chinese Fire Monkey, this Chinese year’s zodiac sign, will adapt to Brussels. I hope that, despite the weather, it will enjoy our Belgian beer. It might miss the Japanese tower. A famous poem by Du Fu (712-770 AD), the “Chinese Virgil”, may support my point:
Climbing up high
The wind blows hard, the sky is high,
the apes wail mournfully;
The island is clean, the sand is white,
above it the birds wheel round.
The falling leaves of the boundless woods
drop down withered and cold;
Endlessly the Yangzi River
comes swirling and rolling along.
I travel on for thousands of miles
through the sad autumn days;
Plagued with the sickness of many decades,
I climb the tower alone.
With these hard times and my bitter regrets,
I’m growing more frosty hair,
Dejected now that I’ve given up drinking
my rough-brewed ale.
English version from Chinese by Peter Harris
Image credits © Ruskin in Brussels