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Sunday, March 3, 2024
The Observer

Chinese department celebrates Mid-Autumn Festival

The Chinese department and the department of East Asian Languages and Cultures celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, in the LaFortune ballroom Sunday, Sept. 26. The celebration featured student performances, traditional decorations and Chinese food. 

The Mid-Autumn Festival, Zhongqiu Jie (中秋节) in Chinese, is one of China’s biggest and most important festivals. The festival is a celebration including family reunions, mooncakes, parades and lanterns. 

The Chinese department’s annual festival is important for students studying Chinese, according to professor Yongping Zhu.

He said the purpose of the event is “to allow our students who study Chinese to know Chinese culture by learning Chinese dance and [performing songs].”

According to assistant teaching professor and event coordinator Congcong Ma, the festival celebrates the harvest season and usually falls on Sept. 15. However, she explained that the date of the celebration is based on the lunar calendar, so the exact date varies from year to year. 

“We have a very full bright moon on that day and that represents the family reunion. It’s a good chance to bring all of our students together, to have the opportunity to meet people from different [grade] levels, like a family reunion,” Ma said.

Zhu also described the family-oriented celebration. He said on the day of the festival, the moon is rounded and this is interpreted as a metaphor for family members coming together. 

Junior Linh Oliver said the festival is based on the myth of the Moon Goddess Chang'e (嫦娥). 

“The moon is said to symbolize a lot of things that are crucial in Chinese culture: family and togetherness, harmony, longevity and prosperity,” Oliver said. “Even in modern times, this holiday serves as a time for reflection, recentering of self and spending quality time with those you hold dear.”

Each level Chinese class prepared a performance for the event. First, second and third-year students performed in larger groups while fourth-year students had individual performances, according to Oliver.

“There were a lot of super talented solo performers who got to showcase their passions, and then there were group performances from all the different classes,” Oliver said.

After the performances, students and families were invited to enjoy Chinese food and mooncakes. 

The event was sponsored by the department of east Asian languages & cultures, the Liu Institute for Asia and Asian studies and the center for the study of languages & cultures. 

The Chinese department also hosts an annual celebration in February to mark the 15 days of Chinese New Year. 

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