Wednesday, Oct. 4 is the official day of the 2017 year for the Mid-Autumn Festival, a holiday that is celebrated widely in East Asia. Also known as the Moon Festival, people from different parts of Asia come together with their family and friends to celebrate this day of harvest. In order to integrate this traditional holiday with Kean University students, Wenzhou-Kean University Student Association (WKUSA) hosted a Mid-Autumn Festival luncheon at the Miron Student Center (MSC) room 228.
The Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon Festival came to be when a hero named Hou Yi found out that his wife Chang'e drank an elixir of immortality and lived on the moon. The reason for this was because Yi excelled in archery and shot down nine of the 10 suns that brought disaster to the people. By leaving one sun, it provided light for the people. An immortal admired Yi and gave him an elixir which would cause him to go to heaven and become a god. Not wanting to leave his wife, he refused to drink the elixir. Yi gave Chang'e this elixir to keep, which Peng Meng, an apprentice of Yi, saw. Meng wanted to be like Yi, so he broke into his house while Yi was gone and demanded to take the elixir from Chang'e. Instead of handing over the elixir, she drank it and flew out the window, heading to the sky. Still wanting to be near her husband, she decided to live on the moon and watch over her husband. Once Hou Yi came back and found out what happened, he grieved so much that he started to offer sacrifices, fruits and cakes that Chang'e liked. After people learned of Hou Yi and Chang'e's story, they started to do the same and offered the fruits and cakes for peace and good luck.
Last year, WKUSA celebrated their Mid-Autumn Festival in the MSC Atrium, but this year, they decided to make things more personal. Tickets were being distributed to those who wanted to attend, so there was a limited amount of seats available in the room. Therefore, plenty of Union Kean and Wenzhou-Kean University (WKU) students were quick in reserving their tickets to attend the luncheon.
At 12:30 p.m., WKUSA Vice President Will Harrison and senior Asian studies major, initiated the event by greeting the guests.
"The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the most important traditional Chinese festivals where on the 15th of the eight-month [in the lunar calendar], Hou Yi and Chang'e reunite under a full bright moon. This festival is also known as the 'Festival of Reunion' where people get together with their families as well as a day of harvest for farmers who have finished gathering crops and fruits from orchids. I hope you all can feel this sense of reuniting among your friends here today," said Harrison.
After the introduction of the executive board and welcoming remarks from Vice President for Student Affairs Janice Murray-Laury, all guests, faculty and staff were welcome to grab food.
Tables of Asian cuisine filled the borders of the room. From duck to dumplings and soda to bubble tea, everyone enjoyed the food that was served.
At the center of each table, there was either a pomelo, which is a type of Chinese grapefruit, or four mooncakes. Mooncakes are traditionally served during this day because the roundness of the cake symbolizes its completion and unity. By sharing round mooncakes with friends and family, the feeling of unity and completeness brings everyone happiness and peace.
The pomelo is one of the fruits that are eaten during the Moon Festival, as it is considered to be Chang'e's favorite fruit. It is common to eat it with mooncakes as this fruit is both sweet and sour. The roundness of the pomelo also makes it a lucky fruit by the Chinese. Interestingly, the Mandarin word for pomelo is yòuzi, and it is a homophone for a phrase that means "prayer for a son."
Yibei Lin, a graduate accounting major, was one of the WKU students who attended the lunch to celebrate.
"I think WKUSA did a good job putting this event together," said Lin. "I liked the food that was served for lunch, especially the beef. It was well-cooked."
After everyone had their first plate of food, they were welcome to take seconds and thirds, as long as the food lasted. As everyone was eating, WKUSA presented a video on the story and history of the Mid-Autumn Festival. Those who were not aware of what or how the Mid-Autumn Festival came to be, the video explained how it all began.
Once the video was done, Ken Lin, public relations of WKUSA, presented a game that questioned the room about the video they just watched. Since a lot of WKU and Asian Studies students and faculty knew the answers, the questions were more directed toward Union Kean students and faculty. Those who answered the questions correctly were able to give a WKUSA shirt to the other students.
The floor was then opened to Sue Gronewold, Ph.D., professor in the Asian Studies department. Along with Gronewold to represent the Asian Studies program, Xurong Kong, Ph.D., the associate professor and director of the Chinese and Asian Studies department, was there with flyers and course descriptions of the classes offered for those programs.
"What a lot of students don't know, is that they can get a minor in Chinese studies, a major in Asian studies and a minor in Asian studies," said Gronewold. "Students can graduate with these degrees or minors in their pockets."
Last but not least, WKUSA briefly talked about their future events and meeting information before closing up the lunch. They meet every other Tuesday in Center for Academic Success (CAS) 224 from 3:15 to 4:30 p.m. For the month of October, their meetings will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017 and Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017.
The lunch ended around 2:30 p.m. and students who had class before were able to pop in for a bit before all the food was gone. Students who had class in the middle of the lunch were able to enjoy a bit before heading out early.
"The lunch was very well organized and had a great turn out," said Kong. "The best part of it was giving out t-shirts from Asian Studies to students from Wenzhou. This day was very important to us. We have hosted this event since 2006 and every time, the students and faculty members long for it so they can taste the culture."
WKUSA, the Asian Studies department and the Student Organization would like to thank everyone who was able to make it to the lunch and make it another memorable mid-autumn for them.