A Chinese tradition: Students celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival

On Sunday, Sept. 27, people in the U.S., Canada and Central and South America had the chance to witness a rare total lunar eclipse of a full moon at its closest proximity to Earth, causing the moon to fall in the shadow of Earth.

One of the most important festivals in China, the Chinese Mid-Autumn festival is a holiday worshiping the moon as a symbol of rejuvenation, and this year it happened to land on the night of the so-called Supermoon. Ethnic Chinese and Vietnamese people celebrate this holiday by gathering together with their families, eating round pastries called Mooncake, and lighting colorful lanterns, according to Travel China Guide.

“It is like Chinese Thanksgiving to us,” Ella Wu, finance and administration coordinator for the Office of International Programs (OIP), said.

Wu moved to the U.S. from China in 2007 when she was 14, later graduating from the University of Maine in 2014. At UMaine, Wu was the president of the Asian Student Association and a treasurer for the International Student Association (ISA).

“When I was a student here, a lot of people thought I was an international student even though I am a U.S. Citizen,” Wu said. “I love the environment in OIP. Working with the international students reminds me back of the day when I was a student, so this office will always be a special place for me.”

In mainland China, Chinese New Year lasts for 23 days, which means people have plenty of time to visit their relatives from all over the country. However, for the Mid-Autumn Festival, major countries that celebrate the festival — China, Vietnam and Taiwan — have only one day off, which is why this holiday is usually spent within the immediate family.

One of the traditions on this night is to go out on family moon-watching outings, which Wu remembers clearly.

“The festival is one of the few times when I could connect with nature,” Wu said. “Because China is so busy and polluted, the only place where you can see the stars and the moon clearly are the hills and mountains.”

On Friday, the ISA hosted a Mid-Autumn themed Coffee Hour at the Union. It was fourth-year student Roy Lai’s first time coming to a Coffee Hour.

“I am glad I came today. It is really amazing to see so many people from all over the world celebrate my holiday with me,” Lai, an international student from Taiwan, said.

Similarly to Wu, Lai also shared his family tradition of gathering together and lighting lanterns.

“We actually send our lanterns away to the river as a symbol of purity, rejuvenation and reunion,” Lai said.

Although the themed coffee hour brought joy to many, the long distances from home on this major holiday was quite sentimental for some students.

“Whenever the festival comes, you start to miss your family even more,” Wu said. “It is definitely one of the most heartwarming holidays to me.”

Notice: A print version of this article, published Monday, Sept. 28, 2015 incorrectly stated Jocelyn Nerney was the author. Although Ms. Nerney is a writer for The Maine Campus, Aliya Uteuova did in fact write this article and the online version is accurate. We offer our apologies to both writers and readers for any and all confusion. 

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