Chinese students harvest friendship and love
Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 15:10
Making a home away from home is not an impossible feat. As international students we come across many situations where in we have to adjust to our new home. We adapt to the local food habits, weather and a lot of other “anomalies” in our host city.
However, the impact is most felt at the time of festivities. Celebrating an important festival, while being away from family and friends, is strange and unknown to most of us. But the Chinese students at NDSU may have learned the trick.
Last Saturday the Chinese students of NDSU teamed up with other Chinese folks form Fargo-Moorhead to celebrate the mid-autumn harvest festival, also popularly known as the Moon Festival.
The humble celebration of the Chinese Lantern Festival was held at the First Presbyterian Church across Klai Hall in downtown Fargo. A merry crowd of Chinese families and our own herd of students from China joined the festivities by singing Chinese songs and playing card games.
The students had an amazing opportunity to share their culture as they had brought along non-Chinese guests to the event. As a writer for this newspaper, I was lucky to experience the celebration of a Chinese festival for the first time in my life.
The moon festival in China is usually held in September through October as it coincides with the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese lunar calendar.
People eat moon cakes, float sky lanterns and light up incenses in reverence to the Goddess of Moon Chang’e on the occasion of Moon Festival. Guessing of “Lantern Riddles” and drinking of tea are also part of the celebrations.
This day is also a romantic festival as most places in China hold matchmaking events. One of the ways in which this is done is
where young single women throw their handkerchiefs to a crowd of young men, and if one man catches the handkerchief and returns it, he has a chance of romance.
Like any other traditional Chinese festival, Moon Fest is filled with stories of the immortal deity Chang’e and how she happened to live on the moon forever.
One version of the story is this: According to legend, Chang’e and her husband Huoyi were immortals in heaven. When the Jade emperor’s 10 sons turned into 10 suns, the Emperor asked help from Huoyi, who was an expert archer.
Huoyi shot down nine of the 10 suns and left one sun for the earth. The Jade emperor was not happy about the killing of his sons and ordered Huoyi and Chang’e to live as mortals on earth. Chang’e was upset about this and so Huoyi asked the Queen Mother of the West to give him an immortality pill.
She warned him that only half a pill is to be taken by each person. But when he took it home, Chang’e out of curiosity swallowed the whole pill and floated away to the moon. She now lives there with Jade Rabbit and Wu Gang the Wood cutter. The Jade Rabbit also known as the Moon Rabbit is the traditional icon.
“The main idea of Moon Fest is about the whole family getting together. We had a lot of fun even so far away from home. We played poker and sang songs and munched on some delicious moon cakes,” said Qianhui Zhao, a freshman majoring in biological sciences, said.
She and other Chinese students wish to keep following the traditions of their ancestors, no matter where they are.