As the sun descended on College Hill Tuesday, Sep. 21, students of Asian heritage celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival, or Moon Festival, by gathering on the Main Green for mooncakes and community. The holiday falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month and is associated with the harvest season and the full moon, according to CNN Travel.
The holiday is celebrated mainly in East and Southeast Asia. Cultural organizations on campus, like the Chinese Students Association, organized community events, including mooncake giveaways.
For the Chinese Students Association’s Mid-Autumn Festival Celebration, students lined up in a long queue to receive their free slices of mooncake at the steps of the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center. An extensive selection of mooncakes was offered, including green tea, white lotus, lotus-coconut, pineapple and matcha. The traditional sweets were brought to campus from Chinatown’s Ho Yuen Bakery in Boston.
Students, including a substantial number of first-years, awaited their mooncake portions.
Now that Michael Fu ’25 is in college, he wanted to re-experience the celebrations of home. “At my household, we would always eat mooncakes,” Fu told The Herald. “After the event, I’ll text my parents about it. My mother has sent me a couple of videos” of the festival.
The event ended early after the organization handed out around 300 pieces of mooncake within the first hour, according to their Facebook page.
“It’s a tradition for (the Chinese Students Association) to come to (the) Faunce Steps around sunset time to hand out mooncakes,” said Charles Wang ’22, co-president of CSA. He added that the celebration “had a better attendance this year than any year in the past, maybe because everyone was locked up (due to) COVID for so long.”
The Chinese Students and Scholars Association also organized a Mid-Autumn Festival event Monday. At the CSSA event, fun community-building games accompanied the giveaway of mooncakes.
The Asian-American Heritage Series Welcome Back event, held in Sayles Hall, coincided with the CSA event Tuesday. Although the event was not planned for the holiday, its goal was still to foster community. The event included three student performances of traditional South-Indian-style singing, slam word poetry and a solo musician, as well as dinner and a raffle.
For Alanna Zhang ’25, who attended the Heritage Series, the Mid-Autumn Festival carries cultural significance.
“We usually have dinner with my grandparents and have mooncakes,” she said. “For me, it’s just something my family always does, and it’s a way for us to all gather and eat food together, which is such a big part of Chinese culture,” she said.
“I wish there was more messaging about it because I feel like it’s a big deal for a lot of people” but not well represented on campus, Zhang said.
Another attendee, Kaylen Pak ’24, also celebrates Mid-Autumn Festival, called chuseok in Korean, through dining with her family and eating rice cakes with different fillings. “When I think of chuseok I mostly think of my mom and her cooking,” she said. The holiday is “one of the few times that I reflect (on) and think actively (about) my Korean heritage and background.”
Wang said of the CSA celebration: “It’s just a good time to bring a little bit of what a lot of students might have at home to campus.”