Moon Festival Offers Opportunity for MC Campus, Clinton Community to Celebrate Family, Diversity
Andy Kennedy had been enjoying the Moon Festival – a traditional Asian mid-autumn harvest celebration comprised of lively music, a fun program of skits and surprises, and samples of tasty Chinese cuisine, including dumplings and “Moon cakes” – last fall when he suddenly found himself enrolled in a participation exercise.
He and a few audience members were called upon to help recite some verses about the Moon by Li Bai (701-762), a famous Tang Dynasty poet, in Mandarin. Kennedy, an administrative assistant in the Office of Global Education at MC, said the oft-quoted poem is reflective of a person’s longing for home at this time of year. In English, Bai’s poem, “Quiet Night Thought,” may be translated:
At the end of my bed, the moon is shining bright,
I think it looks like frost upon the ground.
I raise my head and look at the bright moon,
I lower my head and think of home.
That yearning for home is a central theme of the festival, which resembles the American holiday of Thanksgiving. Kennedy said the event dates back to the Song Dynasty in China, and while the largest number of celebrants are Chinese, many other countries in the East and in Southeast Asia celebrate their own version of it.
The Office of Global Education, with the help of MC’s International Student Association (ISA), will host this year’s Moon Festival from 6-8 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 12, at Lions Club Park in Olde Towne Clinton. Mei-Chi Piletz, executive director of the Office of Global Education at MC, said participation in the night of performances, refreshments, and fun has increased dramatically in 12 months.
The event draws participation from MC faculty, staff, students, and a variety of groups and organizations on and off campus, including the Baptist Student Union, the Multicultural Student Association, the Student Government Association, and host families of MC international students.
“Last year, we had the event on campus at Anderson Hall,” Piletz said. “We decided to have it at an outdoor venue this year, where we can see the Moon, have a stage for performances, and some Chinese refreshments to share, as long as supplies last.
“By having the festival at the park, we can embrace our Clinton community in addition to our MC Family and celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival.”
Office of Global Education representatives say they are grateful to the ISA for providing assistance throughout the festival. The ISA helps showcase the various international cultures present at MC and build a connection between the domestic and the international communities.
“The ISA also embraces our domestic students,” Piletz said. “This year, three students from MC’s Honors College serve as officers in the ISA: Anna Robbins, Margaret Wingo, and Hannah Winston.
“These officers have a calling to befriend international students and eventually go into the mission field. The Moon Festival is the first event they will be participating in as ISA officers.”
The festival takes place when the Moon is brightest. The full Moon symbolizes reunion, so families and friends gather to enjoy one another’s company, gaze at the Moon, dance, and eat. The traditional “Moon cakes” are typically made of flour and eggs and are filled with fruit, beans, nuts, or sweet cakes. They are round in shape to resemble the full Moon.
“Festivals and food are two things that bind every culture on Earth,” Kennedy said. “Being able to participate in such events is a great way to broaden our horizons and learn about people groups that we otherwise may never interact with in our day-to-day lives.
“I highly encourage everyone who can to participate,” he said. “It is a time for families to get together and celebrate the bounty of the season. Here at MC, it is an excuse for us to come together and bond as a campus community celebrating the diversity God has given us.”
In the event of rain, the Moon Festival will take place in the First Baptist Clinton Fellowship Hall. For more information about the event, click here.