On Sept. 28 the Chinese Program, in collaboration with the Asian American and Pacific Islander Student Alliance, held a celebration to observe the Mid-Autumn Festival. Students gathered together at the Dort and Goldstein residence grill to celebrate and enjoy traditional Chinese desserts: mooncakes, kabobs and oolong tea.
Called Zhōngqiū Jié, the traditional Chinese festival has been celebrated for more than 2,000 years. Traditionally, families come together on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month of the Chinese lunisolar calendar to reunite, give thanks for an ample harvest and pay homage to the moon goddess Chang’e.
The treats and harvest are a fundamental part of the Mid-Autumn Festival; mooncakes are consumed every year on this occasion. These seasonal pastries mean more than just delicious dessert. Mooncakes are round to resemble the full harvest moon that rises every year during the Mid-Autumn Festival. In Chinese culture, roundness symbolizes completeness and togetherness. As the sun sets and the moon appears, the bright harvest moon holds the same significance as the mooncakes.
In an interview with the Catalyst, Associate Professor of Chinese Language and Culture Jing Zhang mentioned, “The festival celebrates family reunion, as the full moon symbolizes. Our event emphasizes togetherness and is always open to everyone. Unfortunately, due to a tight budget on food, we didn’t promote it as extensively this year.”
Even though the mooncakes rapidly disappeared, many of the students enjoyed experiencing a different cultural festival and learning the significance it has for their peers. A Catalyst reporter attended the Mid-Autumn Festival and observed togetherness, harmony and enjoyment among students who attended. As the festival is mainly observed for East and Southeast Asia and among Asian Americans, the Chinese Program providing it as a school-wide event helps to diversify the school and brings an opportunity for everyone to celebrate.
“It’s the time of the year, one of the biggest festivals in Asian culture, the Mid-Autumn Festival (Moon Festival),” first-year and Chinese Teaching Assistant (TA) Ko-Jou Yu said.
“Celebrating this festival on campus brings together campus and local communities and contributes to our vibrant student life,” Zhang stated.