by Wang Aihua, Li Hanfang
No firework shows or float parades. Even the famed A-Ma Temple had rules controlling the number of incense-burning believers to be allowed inside.
In the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR), the Spring Festival or Chinese New Year this year was less bustling due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a city that has seen no locally transmitted cases for over 10 months, Macao had applied its epidemic control experiences in cautiously celebrating the Spring Festival, one of the most important festivals for the Chinese people, which falls on Feb. 12 this year.
Encouraging local residents to stay for the holiday, Macao had rolled out New Year decorations throughout the city aiming to create a festive atmosphere just as in the past.
The Largo do Senado square, for example, were lit up by lanterns themed on the ox, symbolizing the new lunar Year of the Ox, attracting a number of photo-loving visitors. Other main streets, parks, shopping centers and hotels also featured ox-themed decorations.
A tourist from Shanghai named Shen Fuqing had captured the glittering beauties of festive Macao with his camera. Posting numerous photos on his social media account, Shen, who had visited Macao several times before, told Xinhua he had found the city an attractive destination. "I love shopping here."
The city's multiple museums and institutions also staged exhibitions on various subjects.
At the Municipal Affairs Bureau, an exhibition brings visitors back to old times with over 100 nostalgic items for the Spring Festival, such as red envelops for giving out money as New Year gifts, incenses and money-resembling paper that were burnt as an offering to the deceased, and lion head-shaped tools used in lion dancing performances.
Organizers of the exhibition said the details of the Macao residents celebrating the Spring Festival for generations were the best example of how the Chinese cultural traditions and customs had been carried on in this lively small city.
For Macao resident Ng Jung Wei, worshiping sea-goddess Mazu at the A-Ma Temple on Spring Festival had been a family tradition for years. "Besides praying for divine blessings, the trip is also a good time for family getting together and an inheritance of Chinese culture," he said.
A man surnamed Leung has been running a store in front of the temple for years. "It's much quieter here this year," he said. "In the past, there were temporary stalls selling pinwheels. The government stopped it this year for epidemic control."
Quickly decorating his pinwheels and handing them out to waiting children, Leung said people in Macao had been living a relatively peaceful life in the past year thanks to the government's timely response to the coronavirus epidemic.
"For many Chinese, the past Year of the Rat had been the most difficult one. I hope the new Year of the Ox will bring us bliss after all the misfortunes," Ng prayed piously.