By Lydia Wu, ’22. Photo by Gengmo “Aimee” Zhao 23’. Edited by Zifu “Cici” Yu 22’. First row from left to right: Zifu “Cici” Yu 22’, Lin “Lynn” Pan 23’, Jingyi “Angela” Yan 23’. Second row from left to right: Tong “Lydia” Wu 22’, Xinyu “Jocelyn” Zhang 23’, Ziai “Catherine” Mao23’. Third row from left to right: Shuxian “Sophia” Xie 23’, Yu “Joy” Qiu 23’.By Lydia Wu, ’22.
Last Friday, September 13th, was the Moon Festival in the Chinese Lunar Calendar. On the Moon Festival, as the name explains, Chinese people gather together to appreciate the moon, for it is at its fullest point on August 15th annually in the Lunar Calendar.
Chinese people have celebrated the Moon Festival for a long time. Approximately 3000 years ago, in the West Zhou Dynasty, a book named Rites of Zhou, recorded a particular Chinese ritual for the full moon. Traditional Chinese believed that they needed to thank to the soil which gave them harverness and thank to their ancestors to give their lives. In the Tang Dynasty, about 1500 years ago, the ceremony of offering to the full moon was ensured a stable date, the 15th day of August in the Lunar Calendar (Source).
From one of the oldest legends in Chinese history, the origin of the Moon Festival begins with a young couple. Hou Yi, a hero full of power, shot nine suns down in a time when there had been ten in the sky. The ten suns were too hot, and he saved all of grains and people from suffering in extremely hot days. Hearing his story, a goddess gave him a pill which would let him live forever. Hou Yi was not willing to leave his wife Chang’e alone, so he let Chang’e put the pill in the drawer of her desk. Peng Meng, one of Hou Yi’s students, who learned hunting from Hou Yi, became excited at the idea of living forever. Therefore, when Hou Yi left his home, Peng Meng forced Chang’e to give him the pill. Having no choice, Chang’e swallowed the pill instead of remaining mortal for her husband, Hou Yi. Because the pill was only meant Hou Yi, it had an unintended effect on Chang’e, and it forced her to live on the moon. The neighbors of Hou Yi offered Chang’e’s favorite fruits and desserts to the moon in order to wish that Chang’e could live peacefully on the moon. From that time, the 15th day of August became a festival which families gathered together to appreciate the moon (Source).
The Moon Festival is an important date for Chinese people to celebrate in addition to the Spring Festival, which represents the new beginning of the New Year in Lunar Calendar. Almost everyone waits excitedly for the coming of the Moon Festival Break so that they have a rare opportunity in their busy lives to go back home and celebrate the festival together with their families. Unfortunately, for the LCA students studying abroad, they have no holidays or chance to go stay with their families. They cannot even appreciate the moon at the same time with their parents. However, staff in the North Campus and some parents warmly prepared a special Moon Festival celebration for not only Chinese but also all boarders in the dorm.
At 6pm on the night of the Moon Festival, when the students came to the dining hall, a feast of delicious Asian dishes was displayed on a huge, family-style table. Sushi, cucumber with special sauce, Sichuan favored spicy fish, pork ribs, and many others were tremendously tasty and popular; a lot of students took full plates of food. Although the boy’s soccer team could not enjoy the special dinner with parents, guardians, and friends because of their game, Dr. Winsor and Mrs. Torjesen saved some of the feast for them. Everyone felt loved and delighted, for they ate a lot of delicious food on a gorgeous night, celebrating an important cultural holiday.
At 7:30pm, everyone came outside to the backyard of North Campus to appreciate the moon together. We listened together to music called Hoping We Live Peacefully played by Lynn Pan on her Chinese traditional instrument, the GuZheng. With the soft breeze, every note fell smoothly from her fingers, and we enjoyed the special night in early autumn.
When the song finished, everyone started to enjoy the mooncakes. In addition to yolk and five-nuts mooncakes, the traditional holiday dessert, other different kinds of desserts such as tiny red bean rice cakes, taro cakes, and many others emerged on the long table. All students, parents, and faculty admired the food. Finally, the campfire was set up for students in the dorm, and we all roasted marshmallows together.
Although Chinese students living in the dorm cannot gather together with their parents and relatives for this special holiday, the dorm, as a big family, provided a warm atmosphere for these boarders from far away. We, as international students, felt so thankful to faculties and parents who supplied food and activities for us.