Arts & Culture / Mosaic / September 29, 2010

Clubs continue 3,000 year Chinese tradition

On the one night of autumn when the moon is the fullest it will be all year, Chinese families gather under the moon to celebrate the harvest. Here at Knox, the members of the Chinese Club and Korean Club held their own celebration: the Mid-Autumn Festival. They celebrated the holiday on September 22 in Ferris Lounge with a presentation on the history of the event, along with traditional snacks, including tea, rice cakes and mooncakes.

One of the many traditions of the Mid-Autumn festival is eating mooncakes. Mooncakes are a pastry made from thick paste, usually made of lotus seeds, with a salted egg yolk in the middle. They can be round or square, and are usually embossed with a symbol on the top. The Chinese Club offered lotus seed, red bean and gourd flavored mooncakes, along with Korean rice cakes, all of which were enjoyed by the students attending the party.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is a Chinese tradition that began 3,000 years ago, and has since spread to many other countries in Asia. There are many legends associated with the holiday, but the most prominent is that of Houyi and Chang’e. According to the legend, there were, at that time, ten suns circling the earth. One day, all ten suns lined up and became so hot that the Earth began to burn, so the emperor asked Houyi, a skilled archer, to shoot down nine of the suns. As payment, Houyi received a magical pill that, when swallowed, would grant him eternal life. Before he took the pill, Houyi wanted to undergo a year of prayer and fasting, so he hid it under a rafter in his house. Houyi’s wife, Chang’e, found the pill one day when Houyi was summoned by the emperor, so she took it instead and flew up to the moon. However, she accidentally coughed up the pill, so she was unable to fly back to earth. Chang’e commanded a rabbit on the moon to make her a new pill, and legend has it that to this day it is still trying to make one. Once a year, Houyi visits Chang’e from his palace on the sun, and this is why the moon is brightest at Mid-Autumn.

The Chinese Club has many more events planned over the upcoming year. They plan to have a hot pot social for Chinese New Year, as well as a movie nights and workshop where students can learn to make traditional dumplings. They have meetings every Wednesday at 4pm with games of Mahjong afterwards for anyone who is interested in learning about Chinese culture.

Miranda Loeber

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