One could hardly miss the enchanting images of bright pink fans bursting with energy –– the swirls of color and movement radiating throughout Ern Commons Saturday. Vivid traditional Chinese umbrellas opened and closed to the beat of various styles of music as the smell of freshly-cooked Chinese food filled the air. The laughter, cheer and smiles attracted about 150 students from various backgrounds –– enthusiastic to learn about Chinese tradition –– to join the Chinese Student Association in celebrating the annual Full Moon Festival.
As the moon grows brighter throughout the season of autumn, the pinnacle of its brilliance is honored annually in Chinese culture around late September and early October –– varying from year to year. The CSA hosts the Full Moon Fest every year at this time. On a broader scale, the holiday emphasizes the importance of family. The CSA presented the theme of “family” in regards to what it means at the University, with the close friendships made throughout CSA and the student body. CSA invited other organizations like the Korean Student Association and the Taiwanese Student Association to have booths at the event.
Victoria Wang, third-year College student and president of CSA, discussed what the holiday means to her and how the organization hoped to bring values from the traditional culture on Grounds.
“Full Moon Fest occurs when the moon is brightest,” Wang said. “Most families give out mooncakes [and] Chinese lanterns. It’s really a gathering of all families, a chance to get together. Sometimes people even watch the moon out at night because it’s so bright. The holiday is mostly about family.”
Alex Kyereboah, second-year College student and member of the CSA’s culture committee, worked to ensure the Full Moon Fest offered a fun environment for all who attended. His emphasis was on helping the first-years and new members navigate both the holiday and their time at the University.
“This is an important event for our organization, especially for the first-years who come to Grounds and don’t really have a family here who they can fall back on,” Kyereboah said. “Full Moon Fest is really important for that first-year retention where everyone can finally feel accepted working towards a goal, a performance, with everyone together. It just helps everyone feel really included.”
Select members of the culture committee served as choreographers to help teach dances. This also served as a channel for new members of CSA to work together, get to know one another and help build friendships within the organization while learning performances.
“The best part about Full Moon Fest was getting to interact with the new first-years and new members,” Kyereboah said. “That’s always nice to see the first-years who we were last year, come on and be able to do that same thing [and] build that family environment for them where they feel accepted just as our upperclassmen did for us. I think it’s really fulfilling to see that.”
First-year College student Kartik Chugh wanted to put himself out there and try new things at the University. He began dancing this semester and performed at Full Moon Fest, despite not being Chinese himself. Chugh had never danced before joining CSA but learned a great deal about traditional Chinese dance styles as well as modern performance techniques.
“We really wanted to underscore that you can appreciate Chinese tradition as well as fuse it with modern entertainment and just have a good time combining those two things together,” Chugh said. “I loved learning the dance for ‘Takeaway’ by The Chainsmokers. Compared to the traditional Chinese dance we put on, it was more fast-paced. The choreography was more modern.”
The festival attracted both club members and those not involved in the organization. As a planning member of other cultural organizations, second-year College student Kwang Yoo appreciated all the effort put into this event and felt encouraged to join in and indulge in the festivity around him.
“Even though I’m not in the organization that hosted, I did feel included,” Yoo said. “They had activity stations set up so if a newcomer came around and said ‘Hi’ and looked around we would get extra raffle tickets. They definitely wanted newcomers to feel welcome to come learn about everything and meet people.”
Another aspect of the entertainment merged tradition with contemporary culture. CSA performed a skit based on a traditional Chinese folktale about a man named Hou Yi, sent to save the Earth from overheating by shooting down 9 out of 10 suns present in the universe.
Although the skit came from ancient Chinese tradition, the CSA creators filled the dialogue with modern references like the VSCO girl meme.
Tim Hong, member of the culture committee and second-year College student, helped choreograph and direct the skit.
“My favorite part was definitely getting to see all the first-time performers get to know each other, getting to know them myself and just having a good time putting on a show together,” Hong said. “It’s definitely rewarding to see them have so much fun.”
An old saying described the Mid-Autumn Festival –– Full Moon Fest –– as a time when “people and the moon reunite to form a full circle.” The CSA worked to ensure their celebration stayed true to the holiday’s traditional values of family on Grounds so that students looking to learn more about Chinese culture could unite to enjoy dance performances, laugh during the skit and all in all have fun together.