Chinese Mid-Autum Moon Festival Celebrates End of Harvest Season

The Chinese Undergraduate Student Association will hold their annual lunar moon festival this Saturday at the Asian Cultural House in celebration of the upcoming Mid-Autumn Moon Festival on Wednesday.

The festival consists of many events, movie showings, lantern making contests and a presentation that helps educate other students on what the holiday is, including basic background on the festival, said Wenye Zhu, 2010 graduate and former cultural chair of the Chinese Undergraduate Student Association, a registered student organization.

The holiday falls on the 15th day of the 8th month in the Chinese Lunar calendar, when the moon is at its fullest. Chinese, Vietnamese and South East Asian people all over the world celebrate the holiday.

Similar to the American Thanksgiving, Zhu said, the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is a time for friends, family and relatives to get together, share food and give thanks. The Moon Festival began nearly 3,000 years ago in the Shang Dynasty as a celebration of the end of the summer harvest season and continues to be celebrated today as one of the most important Chinese holidays.

There are many different mythological stories that lie behind the origination of the Moon Festival, according to the student association, but the most popular is the story of Hou-Yi, an archer, and his wife, Chang-O. The legend follows that there were originally 10 suns that circled the earth. Hou-Yi was ordered to shoot down nine of these suns by the emperor who would reward him with the elixir of life. He was told to hide the elixir and prepare to fast for a year. His wife Chang-O found the elixir, swallowed it and flew to the moon. Every year at the time of the Moon Festival, Hou-Yi gets to visit his wife, which is why the moon is so bright and beautiful.

Moon cakes, circular pastries filled with lotus paste and an egg yolk and drinking tea are two of the traditions that take place during the Moon Festival said Vickie Chan, a student at the University, in an e-mail interview.

β€œThe moon cake was originally round which is meant to represent the moon,” said Chan.

Another popular tradition, according to the student association, is lanterns, a symbol of hope.

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