By Chris Reichard – Fire breathing dragons, oriental buildings, panda bears, and Chinese flowers were a part of the romantic valentines evening with my girlfriend this year. In an Rotterdam park near the Euromast tower, the tallest observation tower in the Netherlands, a large light festival was prepared displaying the many magic’s of the Chinese culture. It brought the traditional lantern festival into more modern complex designs displaying the traditional Chinese dragon, panda bears, Chinese temples, and a Chinese impression of the Dutch culture in a lighted display of Keukenhof. Keukenhof is a flower park in the Netherlands open in the spring time displaying gardens full of traditional Dutch flowers like the tulip.
The Chinese New Year is the most important traditional Chinese holiday culminating into a 15 day festival. The new year celebrations begin on the Chinese New Year day itself and finishes with the lantern festival celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month of the new lunisolar year.
In ancient times the lighted lanterns were fairly simple and were carried to the temple at night by the Chinese children. Once there they would solve the riddles written on the lanterns. In modern times the lanterns have evolved into a variety of complex designs, often made in the shapes of animals. The lanterns themselves can symbolize the people letting go over their past shelf and being refreshed with a new one which they will let go of at the end of the year.
After seeing many signs for the Chinese light festival around Delft and the Hague I wanted to go and take some pictures there, since I’m starting to get into photography. Looking on the website they had a valentine’s day special, getting two tickets for the price of one making it a perfect opportunity for a cheap Dutch date, um I mean a nice romantic date for valentine’s day. After work I met Elise at the Delft train station were we took a train from Delft to Rotterdam central. From there, you can easily get to the Euromast tower by using public transport. Tram 8 took us directly from Rotterdam central station to the Chinese light festival. The evening was rather cold, so we didn’t end up staying to long, but in about an hour and a half we could see all the Chinese lights that we could bear to stare at.
Afterwards we ate at a Japanese restaurant, Nagoya, to complete the Asian experience for the evening. After staying a few months in Japan last summer, no Japanese food I eat outside of Japan tastes quite the same. Even cheap cafeteria food in Japan I find better than most fancy Japanese restaurants in Europe. However Nagoya in Rotterdam had some fairly delicious sushi at reasonable prices, but I was a bit disappointed in with ramen there.
Thanks for reading and bearing with me until the end of this article. It is the first article of any kind that I have written and posted on the internet. Hoped you enjoyed it!