Students celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival despite rain

By By Natalie Hale and By Natalie Hale

By Natalie Hale

Traditional participants of the Chinese culture gather on the 15th day of the lunar calendar to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, or Moon Festival.

The U Hong Kong Student Association and the Taiwanese Student Association held a joint garden party to celebrate the yearly harvest festival Thursday.

Despite the rain, which inhibited playing many of the outdoor games traditionally played at the night markets in Hong Kong and Taiwan, there were many students who turned out to celebrate the day, which is considered one of the most important of Chinese holidays.

“We wanted a different feel this year to the festival because normally, we only have a barbeque, so we decided to mimic the night markets,” said Arden Yang, a junior from Hong Kong in mass communication. “The plan worked out really well, except for the weather.”

While the old traditions of the festival are not carried out as they used to be, the holiday is primarily celebrated by families gathering together to eat with one another and by children who carry glowing, hand-painted lanterns through the streets, said Michael Gong, a junior in business.

There may be many versions, but a traditional legend still accompanies the festival.

Thomas W. Chinn, a Chinese historian and co-founder of the Chinese Historical Society of America, said the legend is centered on a woman named Chang-O (or Chang-E, depending on the translation) who was married to a famous archer named Hou Yi.

For shooting nine out of the 10 suns from the sky that were threatening to burn the earth, Hou Yi was rewarded a pill that contained the elixir of eternal life; Chang-O noticed a glow of light in the rafters one day and discovered the pill, which Hou Yi had hidden, and promptly swallowed it.

After Hou Yi returned, he began to chase her, angered by her discovery, but she flew away to the moon, where she dwells today.

Hou Yi then built himself a palace on the sun, and once a year he is able to visit his wife on the moon, which is why it is so full.

Traditional Chinese moon cakes made with lotus seed paste and egg yolk are served at the festival, as their round shape and yellow hue resemble the moon, representing the harvest.

At the U’s festival, students were able to enjoy a variety of moon cakes, from traditional lotus paste ones to more commercial types.

“Everyone at this festival isn’t from the United States, and it feels nice to have people from my own culture gathered for the evening to celebrate our traditional holiday,” Gong said. “You can’t celebrate this holiday by yourself, so this event is a way for all of us to gather together. It’s something memorable and important to all of us.”

Kate Burns

Jackie Messer tests her chopstick skills by transporting wet marbles from one bowl to another at the Moon Festival celebration Thursday. The event was moved into the Heritage Center from its original location at the Outdoor Recreation Center due to rain.