Rabbit Lanterns Light up the Premier League Pitch. The Yuyuan Garden Lantern Festival Brings Oriental Lifestyle Aesthetics to the World
At 23:00 on 4 February, Beijing time, at the Molineux Stadium in Wolverhampton, England, 11 ball kids holding the “Rabbit Lanterns” from the Yuyuan Garden Lantern Festival which are trending on social media, and Premier League Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. (“Wolves”) players dressed in jerseys with “Happy Lantern Festival” in Chinese printed on them strutted to the center of the stadium together. Shortly after, a huge banner slowly unfolded bearing “Happy Lantern Festival” in English and “Fosun and Wolves Wish Chinese People All Over the World a Happy Lantern Festival” in Chinese. Fireworks were lit on the home field, and the large LED screen was lit up. The whole stadium came alive with festive atmosphere of the Chinese New Year and the Lantern Festival.
On the 22nd matchday of the Premier League that night, Wolves played at home against the all-time greatest team Liverpool F.C. (“Liverpool”). The matchday fell on the 14th day of the first month of the Chinese lunar calendar. In a few hours, Chinese people around the world would ring in the Lantern Festival of the Year of the Rabbit. The Wolves team, who has forged a deep friendship with China, joined hands with the Yuyuan Garden Lantern Festival in Shanghai, China to hold a Lantern Festival-themed event that night, spreading festive atmosphere across the stadium. At the same time, China’s high-end liquor brand Shede Spirits which transmits the Chinese wisdom through its products also sent blessings of the Chinese New Year. In addition to players and ball kids, the coaching team also put a badge specially made for the Lantern Festival of the Year of the Rabbit on their shirts. The team mascot Wolfie held a rabbit lantern and interacted with more than 30,000 football fans at the game to celebrate the traditional Chinese festival.
This was also the first time that the Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritage Lantern Festival and Rabbit Lanterns were introduced to the Premier League, delivering good wishes of the Chinese New Year to football fans and audiences around the world, and sharing the unique charm of oriental lifestyle aesthetics.
Guo Guangchang, Chairman of Fosun International, said that Fosun which is now deeply rooted in China is developing globally with an extensive business presence in more than 30 countries and regions. While focusing on various industries, Fosun has also been committed to promoting cultural exchanges between China and the rest of the world for a long time. “In the future, we will build stages to showcase more excellent cultural products and creative ideas from China to the world, and continue to promote the exchanges and interactions between Chinese culture and cultures of other countries, so that more people will take a fancy to oriental lifestyle aesthetics and China.”
The Yuyuan Rabbit Lanterns which came from afar to the UK brought good luck to the Wolves. In the first half of the game, Hwang Hee-chan created a chance for the rival team to score an own goal and Dawson snapped a goal home. Liverpool conceded two goals in a row during the opening 11 minutes. In the second half of the game, Liverpool player Nunez missed a chance of single-pole ball, and then Wolves staged an excellent counterattack with Neves slotting home Traore’s cross pass with a push shot. In the end, Wolves beat Liverpool 3-0. For the first time in 13 years, Wolves defeated Liverpool in the Premier League.
According to Shi Yu, Vice President of Fosun International, Chairman and CEO of Fosun Sports Group, and Executive Chairman of Wolves, since joining Fosun in 2016 Wolves has entered a period of rapid development under the leadership of a professional operation team, and in the second season, Wolves was promoted to the Premier League as they won the Football League Championship. After returning to the Premier League, the team has been performing steadily. In 2018 and 2019, it won the 7th place in the Premier League in a row. In 2019, it made its way into the final four of the FA Cup, won the Premier League Asia Trophy, reached the main race of the UEFA Europa League, and set their best record in the Premier League. “This time, the Wolves celebrated the Lantern Festival with a big win and also presented a Lantern Festival gift to football fans around the world. More importantly, we have built a bridge between traditional Chinese culture and football to promote cultural exchanges and share happiness.”
As reported, Yuyuan Garden Lantern Festival, as part of National Intangible Cultural Heritage of China, has come into its 28th year. This year, it features the Shanhai Jing, also known as the Classic of Mountains and Seas, a famous Chinese legend consisting of mythical figures and stories. Powered by modern lighting, multi-media technology, AR effects, and other hardcore techniques, it presents a stunning world of the magic adventure of mountains and sea. From its opening till the Spring Festival, it has attracted a total of 2.33 million spectators, up 20% year-on-year. This year has seen an increasing share of young spectators, including Gen Z visitors who always enjoy sharing photos and videos on social media.
Highly popular in the country, the Yuyuan Garden Lantern Festival has also become widely known even outside of China now. On international social media, the event has been recommended by Wang Wenbin, the spokesperson of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as Chinese embassies in Italy, Malaysia, Austria, Indonesia, Philippines and Fiji, and Chinese consulate generals in San Francisco, Erbil and Belfast, and much commented as “amazing” and “inspiring”.
“The Yuyuan Garden Lantern Festival and the traditional Chinese elements presented in the match of Premier League represent the China-based Fosun’s best wishes for all families across the globe. This is a showcase of the oriental lifestyle, as part of Chinese culture, and a beautiful aspiration of all people in the world for a happy life,” said Xu Xiaoliang, Co-CEO of Fosun International.