Mandarin Classes Celebrate Moon Festival

Special Contributor: Leo Ross '24

On September 28 or 29 of each year, Windward's Mandarin classes celebrate the Moon Festival. Moon Festival, or Mid-Autumn Festival, is a holiday celebrated in Chinese culture to appreciate and celebrate the moon as well as the harvest. The Chinese Legend of the Moon Festival says there were once ten suns in the sky. The Emperor of the Heavens noticed that the suns were drying out the land and people could not harvest or grow their own food. There wasn't even water for the fish. Life was miserable. Therefore, the Emperor summoned Hou Yi, a notoriously good archer to shoot down nine of the suns, leaving only one to light up the earth and provide warmth. You may ask how he could shoot down suns; I would ask the same question. But Hou Yi was just that good at archery. The guy could kill the suns with one arrow. Hou Yi was later rewarded with the elixir of immortality. He gave this gift to his wife, Chang E and they planned to drink the elixir together during the full moon. The idea was that they could then become immortal and live the rest of their never-ending lives together. However, Fung Meng (we hate Fung Meng) overheard the two discussing the elixir and planned to steal it for himself. When Fung Meng came to steal the elixir, Hou Yi was out hunting. Given no other option, Chang-E drank the elixir without Hou Yi. She then floated up to the moon and has since then resided there. She could no longer see Hou Yi except on the 15th day of the 8th month when the moon was full and close enough to wave from afar. This date has since been know as Moon Festival or 中秋节 (pronounced: jong chee-oh ji-ay).

Mandarin classes at Windward celebrate this holiday by coming together and eating traditional foods for the festival. The most notable is the moon cake, a calorie-packed baked good with fillings ranging from salted duck egg yolk (an acquired taste) to lotus root and even in trendier moon cakes, ice cream. I'm not kidding when I say calorie-packed. These mooncakes can have up to 1,000 calories and are not much larger than a golf ball. The classes sample all the different flavors and types of mooncakes. While mooncakes are always a necessity at this party, students also bring snacks of their own to share with their classmates and teachers. These range from Chinese candies, Din Tai Fung dumplings, ramen, and green tea. In my class this year, a student even handwrote compliments in Chinese for the rest of the students (Jai Chachra (24)) What a guy! This is a tradition at Windward in the Chinese program that will be continued for years to come and is one of the great joys of being a part of such a great program!