Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Oberlin Celebrated Mid-Autumn Festival with Three Events

Photo courtesy of Yoyo Ji
Asia house residents celebrated with mooncakes and paper lanterns.

September’s end was marked with a traditional East Asian holiday: the Mid-Autumn Festival. This year, the festival fell on Friday, Sept. 29. Three different celebrations were hosted at Oberlin — one by Asia House residents, one by the Korean Student Association, and a joint event by the Chinese Student Association and East Asian Studies department. Each organization celebrated this event in their own way. 

On the day of the festival, Asia House residents gathered in the lobby. College second-year Elyssa Torrence, a resident of Asia House, brought mooncakes and hot tea for everyone to share. Residents arrived throughout the event and chatted in a large group. People discovered similarities in identity with their housemates and shared their experiences with others. Long family heritage stories were accompanied with paper folding. The event strengthened the spirit of the theme housing. 

 Asia House had more guests the next day, Sept. 30. The KSA held their first ever public event celebrating Chuseok, the Korean Mid-Autumn festival. 

“We hosted this event for people to gather and celebrate Korean culture together,” College second-year Max Rho, co-chair of KSA, said. “This event aimed to build a big community for people who love Korean culture.”

The lobby was filled with chatter and laughs, as well as the distinct scent of kimchi. KSA members prepared fresh, homemade kimchi fried rice and kimchi jeon, or pancakes. They also ordered traditional Korean rice cakes, called songpyeon. 

“It’s kind of the equivalent of a Korean Thanksgiving, so we kept aspects of it with the food, rice cakes (equivalent significance of mooncakes for Mid-Autumn Festival), and a ‘make a wish’ wall,” College second-year Erin Koh, co-chair of KSA, said. “In spirit and in intention we kept it quite traditional. It’s really just a time for people to come together and celebrate and appreciate life.” 

Students of diverse backgrounds came and enjoyed the buffet. This inclusive gathering gave individuals opportunities to make new friends and have conversations about their common interests. 

The third event was hosted by the CSA and the East Asian Studies  department. Every year, these two groups collaborate on a showcase to show appreciation for the full moon. This year, the showcase was presented at the Cat in the Cream on Oct 1. According to Co-Chair of CSA, College third-year Coco Song, the event is always organized around the theme of nostalgia. CSA decorated the Cat with a Chinese-style curtain, bouquets, a moon lamp, and a golden lantern. 

Reflecting the completion of the moon phase, the EAST department brought round shaped mooncakes to share. The Chinese characters printed on the cakes represent a variety of flavors such as the sweet lotus seed filling, red bean paste covering salted egg yolk, mixed nuts, and dried fruit filling. The desserts sat on golden, Chinese-style plates like little moons, waiting to brighten the mood with their sweetness. 

Once the moon was becoming visible, Dominic Toscano, assistant professor of Chinese, told the origin tale of the festival. Following his introduction, the hosts officially started the show. Hanyuan Zhu presented the classical “Valse de I’opéra Faust,” on piano, creating a harmonious mood. Following the graceful solo, the Chinese 401 and Chinese 201 classes sang two traditional Chinese songs; “Water Melody” and “The Moon Represents My Heart”. 

Shifting the night’s mood, a newly-established band of Asian students —  Double-degree second-year Heyu Wang, Conservatory second-year Evan Hou, and College second-years Kisa Biely, Yoyo Ji, and Brock Wang — performed an R&B Chinese song “Don’t Ask.” Ryan Zhang continued this mellow ambience with a Japanese jazz piano piece titled “Place To Be.” Bringing back the showcase’s traditional theme, the Chinese 101 and Chinese 301 classes sang “Listen to Mom Telling Stories of the Past” and recited poems “Thoughts on a Tranquil Night” and “Drinking Alone under the Moon.” Finally, the stage welcomed the student band again to share a reminder and appreciation for family by presenting “Mercury Record” and “Rice Field.”  The audience engaged in the light melody, sharing the happy moment together. 

The Mid-Autumn Festival is a time for the full moon and, in a lot of Asian cultures, reunion. Oberlin students who cherish this event came together through hard work to promote their culture and organize celebrations, building a bigger family and accompanying their Obie identity. The full moon rises; a breath apart, our hearts share with each other.

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