S’poreans gave out oranges & heartwarming messages to Chinese shopkeepers in Madrid over CNY

A beautiful gesture.

Joshua Lee | February 8, 06:17 pm


Chinese New Year is a time for Chinese people in China and everywhere else on Earth to reunite with their families.

For many Chinese migrant workers, however, returning to China to celebrate Chinese New Year isn’t feasible because of a variety of reasons.

Celebrating Chinese New Year in Madrid

Enter Yik Jin Hao (YouTube handle @Breufir), a Singaporean student who is currently in Madrid for a student exchange.

“I love Chinese New Year. More specifically, I love being with family and I love the Chinese New Year dinner food. My family knew this and kept teasing me about how I’m on my own and they’re going to eat more on my behalf,” he said in response to Mothership queries.

“At some point, I remember thinking, ‘I may be on my own here in Madrid but who says I have to spend Chinese New Year alone?’. From there, one thing lead to another and this video happened.”

“Hardworking Chinese”

In the video, Yik tells a shopkeeper that he was very moved by how hardworking the Chinese are in Madrid seeing as how they open their shops till late.

“During this first month in Madrid, I realised that life here is really chill,” said the 24-year-old student.

Yik also shared about what he personally witnessed:

“Most locals have breakfast at 6am to 7am, go to work after, have a mini tea break before lunch at 11am, go for lunch at 2pm have a siesta (short nap possibly at home) after lunch, take a pre-dinner break at 6pm after work, and chill until dinner at 10pm before having  drinks or leisure activities after. In short, life is chill. But the Chinese here, they’re always working. Their shops are hardly ever closed regardless of whether it’s a holiday.”

“These Chinese, they came here years ago, without (understanding much) English, much less Spanish, to do business in a foreign country,” Yik added.

“The best part is that most of them succeeded. The Chinese tell me that life has been and is tough but it is a good life. I’ve always respected hard work and so I thought of doing something for them.”

Seeing as how many of them do not spend Chinese New Year with their families, Yik gave out oranges and red packets as a “small gesture” to appreciate them and celebrate with them.

Yik shared that he took a day to give all the 19 sets of oranges and red packets (“19 because 2019, haha”, he said).

Some Chinese shopkeepers reciprocated by giving them free stuff like soft drinks, milk tea, and even a prosperity character.

One of them even asked him, a Singaporean Chinese, why his Mandarin sounded so terrible:

But the most heartwarming part of the gift was the handwritten message included in the red packets.

Here’s a translation of it:

All the Chinese in the world are a family

All the Chinese in the world share the same joy

Wherever you are, that is where home will be

Happy new year

“I’m so damn proud to be Chinese”

Yik told us that the most memorable response he received from a Chinese shopkeeper was to the question why they took the risk to work overseas:

“For the family we are willing to take the risk and it has been tough. In the past 10-ish years many of us changed our lives. Many of us succeeded, our lives changed so much. People here only see the side of us being rich, buying branded goods having a good time but they did not see or talk about the the effort we took to get there. They don’t see us working, just our successes.”

In the end, shooting the video made a deep impact on Yik:

“The first thing that came to my mind after the shoot was, ‘I’m so damn proud to be Chinese'”

You can check out the full video below:

Here’s another heartwarming CNY story:

Chinese migrant workers who could not go home for CNY get hearts warmed by S’pore dumpling party

All images and screenshots via YouTube user @Breufir

About Joshua Lee

Josh has found the perfect Nasi Padang combination. Ask him about it.

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