Banazîr the Jedi Hobbit (banazir) wrote,
Banazîr the Jedi Hobbit

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We Like The Moon: Mid-Autumn Festival 2006

Mid-Autumn Festival report

Taken with an Audiovox PPC-6700 (1.3MP) PDA phone. Click on any image to enlarge.

中秋节 (zhōngqiūjié) is the Chinese harvest festival, also known as the Moon Festival, and corresponds roughly to Lammas/Lúnasa (Lughnasadh) in the Celtic calendar. It actually falls on 06 Oct 2006, but the Chinese Student and Scholar Association (CSSA) had their celebration a little early.

The food was better than I normally give All-Chinese Buffet credit for, though it was still not all Chinese. The highlight was the General Tso's chicken, though there was a nice pork and mushroom dish, Mongolian beef (of which I didn't partake), sweet-and-sour chicken, noodles, fried rice, and lots of fruit (cantaloupe and pineapple) and almond cookies for dessert.

The highlight of the food, of course, was the moon cake (月饼 or yuèbĭng), the traditional food of the Moon Festival. These were made with lotus paste and had salted egg yolks in them.

My friend and colleague from Modern Languages, Wei (Veronica) Wu, was MC for the event. Professor Charlie Zheng from Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering, the current faculty advisor of the CSSA, also addressed the crowd.

There was a reenactment of the Legend of Chang'e, featuring a grad student in a Mongolian!Sam outfit playing the buddha Guanyin. I chuckled a little when Chang'e was identified as the Goddess of Immorality. (Glory to Tyope, godess o missin lettes!)

Chang'e, Ch'ang-O or Chang-Ngo (嫦娥; pinyin: Cháng'é) is the Chinese goddess of the moon. Unlike many lunar deities in other cultures who personify the moon, Chang'e only lives on the moon. As the "woman on the Moon," Chang'e could be considered the Chinese complement to the Western notion of a man in the moon. The lunar crater Chang-Ngo is named after her.

Many years after she was already the moon goddess, Chang'e looked down upon Earth and saw that a terribly cruel emperor sat on the throne. To help the people, she allowed herself to be reborn into the mortal world. The other members of her mortal family were either killed or enslaved by the emperor, but Chang'e managed to escape to the countryside.

Meanwhile, the emperor was aging and obsessed with discovering the elixir of life. He had people all over the land brought to him and demanded of them how to find the elixir of life; nobody knew, of course, but the emperor would not accept ignorance for an answer and executed all those who could not answer.

In the countryside, Chang'e met the goddess of compassion, Guan Yin, who proceeded to give Chang'e a small elixir. Chang'e brought the elixir to the emperor. The suspicious emperor worried that it was poison and demanded that Chang'e taste the elixir first. She did, showing no ill effects, so then the emperor took the elixir and promptly died. Then, Chang'e also left the mortal world; the effects of the elixir had only been delayed for her. However, instead of dying, she ascended to the moon to retake her place as a goddess.


After this, Wei Wu's students recited Li Bai's "Chuang Qian Ming Yue Guang" (The Light of The Moon Before My Bed", one of the most famous poems in China, recited by every Chinese sproglet over the age of 2, I kid you not). One of her students introduced himself, his mother, father, and brother, and said his brother is an accountant and he was a college student. We wondered about his accent until it was intimated that he's only been taking Chinese for 40 days, after which everyone remarked on how great his pronunciation was.

After the skits, Dean Yar Ebadi of the K-State College of Business related his recruiting experiences from a summer tour of Shanghai, Beijing, and Taipei. At some point, I should really visit Shanghai and perhaps go to Beijing again, to get us some more serious grad students.

Tags: chinese culture, chinese food, cultural events, holidays, mid-autumn festival, mythology, parties

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