Xuan Wu New Year
    2010-02-11 10:01:52     CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Duan Xuelian
Beijing's Xuan Wu district recently held special activities to welcome people to the neighbourhood as part of its New Year celebrations.

Interior Lao She Teahouse

By Mary King

Beijing's Xuan Wu district recently held special activities to welcome people to the neighbourhood as part of its New Year celebrations. Xuan Wu, which considers itself a "cradle of folk culture," hopes to draw more tourists to the area.

The day's PR activities started at Lao She Teahouse, which is named after the famous artist who penned the much-loved play called "Tea House." This large teahouse was founded in 1988 but it aims to exude the atmosphere of a traditional teahouse.  Guests were treated to a lavish full-course meal including various local snacks, Beijing duck and a large succulent fish which I was told symbolizes prosperity and abundance for the coming Year of the Tiger.

Some 40 heads of state and numerous celebrities have been entertained at Lao She Teahouse over the years. And, more than two million Chinese and foreign tourists have been entertained there. Staff dressed in traditional attire served us our courses and kept our teacups full while we enjoyed the live entertainment. Acrobatics, dancers and men juggling teapots with incredibly long spouts were part of the staged show.

Off stage, there were other attractions to be enjoyed too. Among them were craftspeople showing off a number of traditional skills, including eggshell painting, the making of miniature toy hairy monkeys, as well as how to design lollypops to look like lobsters or other interesting things.

Guests also got the chance to experience Chinese tea ceremony, and they also tried their hand at such activities as dumpling-making, sweet-making, as well as calligraphy. The calligraphy teacher delighted in showing everyone how to write the Chinese character "Fu", which stands for fortune and is a Chinese character that you are likely to see almost anywhere you go during Spring Festival activities. Some of the guests also reveled in the opportunity to dress up as Peking Opera singers.

Before leaving Lao She Teahouse most of the guests wandered around the souvenir shop, as well as took a peek at Qianmen Courtyard Teahouse that offers private rooms in a more tranquil setting.

The Xuan Wu tour also included a trip to Liulichang Street, a popular tourist area that has many shops selling traditional souvenirs C everything from Chinese fans to bronze Buddha figurines. The day's tour concluded with visits to what we were told were two time-honoured and famous shops C the calligraphy and painting arts shop Rongbao Zai and the calligraphy brush shop Daiyue Xuan.

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