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The annual Moon Festival is celebrated the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese lunar calendar. It is the second-biggest holiday in Chinese society.
The Moon Festival is also a harvest festival. Around this time, the farming is finished for the year, and people get together to celebrate.
“Since families are together, we will prepare food together like Thanksgiving,” said Melissa Pittman, who teaches Chinese at Weber State University. “Every family is different, but barbecues are quite popular right now.”
The WSU Chinese Club hosted the event. Early in the day, attendants made mooncakes, a traditional Moon Festival food.
In China during the festival, everyone gets the entire week off from work. Pittman said this is because after dinner, everyone will go outside and watch the moon and talk. Businesses will show their appreciation for their customers and clients with a gift exchange.
“It’s almost something you must do to keep your business going,” Pittman said.
Some companies will also pay their employees extra money for the holiday. The main gift given is mooncakes.
“We have Chinese students on campus; this is the time when travelers get homesick,” Pittman said. “I want to do this so that they will feel more at home here. We are celebrating this holiday just like they are at home.”
To make mooncakes, eggs must be placed in salty water for 30-45 days. The yolk is the only part of the egg used, because the egg white is too salty. The egg yolk is then baked. Once the yolk is done, it is wrapped in a red bean paste, which creates the filling. The filling is then wrapped in two layers of dough and baked again. When the baking is finished and the mooncake is cut in half, the yolk looks like a full moon, and the paste looks like a dark sky.
“Our biggest goal is to bring a more broader, bigger Chinese program,” said Amanda Truong, the Chinese Club president.
This is Truong’s first semester as the president. She was the secretary last semester. She said she joined the club because her family is Chinese and she wanted to learn more about the culture.
At the event, there was a buffet-style dinner, featuring foods like egg drop soup, pickled vegetables and soy sauce eggs.
“It’s great; people should be traveling, making friends, learning more about what is going on outside of their own country,” said Brandyn Bowers, a marketing major who attended the event. Bowers has been coming to the Moon Festival event for the past couple of years.
Pittman said she wanted this event to introduce the WSU and Ogden community to Chinese culture. Local organizations and churches signed up to come to the event.
“When we have international students, one of our goals as the clubs and organizations is to help them get established and get familiar with life in the US,” said Robert Aube, the Japanese Club president, who was also at the event. Aube has been attending the event since 2010.
The Chinese Club holds weekly activities, but this is its first big event of the semester. The Moon Festival is its second-biggest event, the Chinese New Year being its largest.