The Mid-Autumn Festival is a traditional Chinese celebration of the autumn equinox. The holiday is observed on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunisolar calendar. It is believed that on this day, the moon is the brightest it can be year-round. The tradition goes back over three thousand years, with historians finding that the original celebrations first occurred during the reign of the Shang dynasty (1600-1046 B.C.E). The festival receives its roots from the legend of Chang’e, the Chinese goddess of the moon.
The festival’s main principles are commemorating bountiful harvests of crops, as well as paying respects to the moon, a longstanding symbol of rejuvenation in Chinese culture. The evening can be celebrated in different customary ways depending on the region, but significant widespread practices include family reunions, the lighting of lanterns and the preparation of delicious mooncakes.
On Sept. 21, the Chinese Department held its own celebration of the festival at the bayfront. The observation of the holiday included the distribution of the traditional Chinese desserts, such as the aforementioned mooncakes, egg yolk wafers and tea bags. Students gathered under the tented area of the bay for the event, sharing and trying the treats while enjoying the view as the sun dipped below the horizon and the full moon took its place. As the festivities went on and the day got a little darker, students started to enjoy karaoke under the stars. The rest of the night was rich and vibrant, full of laughs and slightly off-key singing.
Coming at the start of an academic year that feels as close to normal as it can, the lunar celebration of rejuvenation couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. The event gave students the opportunity to immerse themselves in Chinese culture, as well as gather with their peers to commemorate a moment of hope and thankfulness.