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When East meets West, Macao's culture glitters

Updated: 2019-12-13 17:32:02

( Xinhua )

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China's Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its return to the motherland next Friday.

After 20 year's development, Macao has become a world-renowned tourism destination, where Eastern and Western cultures have co-existed for over 400 years.

A wide variety of cultural traditions, languages, religious beliefs, and customs have all existed side by side and influenced one another. With traditional Chinese culture at its heart, Macao's culture is a diverse mixture assimilating Western, particularly Portuguese cultural influences.

In early 2019, the central government unveiled the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, aiming to build Macao into an exchange and cooperation base with Chinese culture as its mainstream and the co-existence of different cultures.

The largest legacy of the eastern and western cultural combination is the Historic Centre of Macao, which has been accepted on the World Heritage List by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2005.

A total of 22 historic sites were recognized for having cultural and historic significance, including several churches, temples, fortresses, a lighthouse, a barrack and other buildings.

The most famous construction is the Ruins of St. Paul's, which refer to the facade of what was originally the Church of Mater Dei. The church was built in the 1700s but was destroyed by fire in 1835.

The old Church of Mater Dei, St. Paul's College and Mount Fortress were all Jesuit constructions and formed Macao's "acropolis."

Just 20 meters away from the Ruins of St. Paul's is the Na Tcha Temple. Built in 1888, Na Tcha Temple worships Na Tcha, a folk religious figure related to Taoism, providing a perfect example of the local Chinese traditions.

Besides the architectures, Macao also has diverse cultural traditions originated from the Chinese mainland and Europe. The Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) government accepted both Chinese and Western festivals as holidays, such as Mid-Autumn Day, Easter, Christmas and Chinese Lunar New Year.

During the Buddha Birthday which falls on the eighth day of the fourth month in Chinese lunar calendar, Macao residents would go on the streets near the Ruins of St. Paul's to watch the performance of Drunken Dragon Dance, a tradition from South China's Guangdong province.

They would also join Our Lady of Fatima parade on May 13 every year to commemorate this Portuguese tradition.

Many local artists draw their inspiration for musics, dances and paintings from Macao's diverse culture.

Director Chen Yifeng's musical theater "Love in Macao" had been staged in Macao since the beginning of December, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Portugal and the 20th anniversary of the return of Macao to the motherland.

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