UM’s Chinese students experience popular holiday at home

Summer Xia

QINGDAO, China–While travel restrictions resulting from the pandemic kept many international students from returning to the University of Miami this fall, Chinese students taking classes remotely from their homeland had a chance to experience one of their country’s biggest holidays, the Mid-Autumn Festival.

The annual event, also called the Moon Festival, is similar to the American Thanksgiving holiday, with families gathering around the dinner table to enjoy autumn harvests.

“It feels better spending Mid-Autumn Festival in China than in United States because Mid-Autumn festival is supposed to be the day of family reunion,” said Eva Ni, a UM sophomore finance major. “It gives me the feeling of home and happiness when I spend the festival with my family in China this year,” said Ni, who lives in Hangzhou in the Zhejiang Province.

Held when it is believed to be the fullest moon of the year, the festival includes traditional activities in which residents light paper lanterns and eat mooncakes — round pastries filled with red bean or lotus seed paste.

“I tasted the ice cream mooncake for the first time,” said Lisa Zhang, a UM sophomore economics major who is taking online classes from Suzhou in the Jiangsu Province. “Also, I had the Lu Noodle cooked by my aunt, and the taste of it took me back to my childhood.”

The festival, a public holiday that takes place over seven days, coincided this year with the National Day, which added an extra day to the festivities. This year the festival began on Oct. 1.

Chinese students said they enjoyed experiencing some of the traditions that they don’t celebrate as much when they are in the United States.

“The biggest difference between spending Mid-Autumn festival in United States and China is that usually I am busy with midterms around the Mid-Autumn festival and National Day when I was in United States, so I would not have any feeling of specialness for that day when the festival actually came,” Ni said.

The Lu Noodle from Fujian, China. Photo Credit: Lisa Zhang
The ice cream mooncake. Photo Credit: Summer Xia