Clad in traditional Chinese clothing, Ukrainian Yana Kvasha danced delightfully to classic Chinese New Year tunes along a village square with locals.
"Cities have their charms, but it is in this small mountain village that you experience the traditional Chinese culture," said the 25-year-old professional dancer. She spent this Spring Festival in Zhuquan Village in east China's Shandong Province.
"Zhuquan," literally meaning "bamboos and streams" in Chinese, is a picturesque village with a history of over 400 years. Today, it boasts traditional cultural experiences that have attracted tourists from home and abroad.
Kvasha has been in China for three years, and each year she picks a different spot to spend Chinese New Year. "My friends recommended Zhuquan Village to me to experience the new year in a rural village," she said.
A few years ago, it was rare for locals to see a foreigner in the village, but in recent years, foreign faces have become more common as tourism booms.
Kvasha was warmly greeted by locals when she arrived. On Chinese New Year's Eve, she even received dumplings from villagers, traditional food that families make together on New Year's Eve.
On Lichun, meaning the beginning of spring, the first solar term in the traditional Chinese calendar, Kvasha took a bite of a radish slice with the Chinese character for "spring" cut out in the middle. This ritual, called "Yaochun," expresses the wish for everything to go smoothly.
She also experienced many other cultural activities such as the Chinese dragon and lion dances, but the most impressive performance to her was the traditional local wedding ceremony.
"The Chinese bride wore a red veil and the new couple had a tea ceremony to honor their parents," Kvasha recalled, adding that it was her first time watching a ceremony so closely.
The cultural experiences have made the village a tourism hotspot. It receives around 1.5 million visitors each year, while 80 percent of local households' incomes rely on tourism.
During the Spring Festival of 2016, the village invited African performers to their traditional temple fair, who presented African dance along with local folk dance and other traditional performances.
"That was my first time seeing foreigners and it was a wonderful combination of performances," recalled 71-year-old local villager Fan Guangxi. "I hope we can have great shows each year."
Fan said that the cultural activities have enriched their lives during the Chinese New Year.
"This is an unforgettable Spring Festival for me and I want to come next year," said Kvasha, adding that she wants to learn how to make dumplings so that she can do it with the local villagers on Chinese New Year's Eve.