About the Interviewed: Jared is a sophomore at the University of Southern California, studying Finance. At the time of this interview, he is also my roommate. His ethnic background is distinctively Chinese, and his parents are first-generation American immigrants. He is 20 years old.
Jared: “My family celebrates unique traditions. We celebrate Chinese New Year, and we celebrate the Moon Festival.”
I ask him to explain the Moon Festival to me in greater detail.
Jared: “It’s pretty festive. My family decorates the place up. It’s a festival that’s centered around the moon, so you get a lot of festive stuff like that. The moon is symbolic of things like harvest and prosperity, so that’s where I guess it comes from. It happens around August – September, whenever the full moon is.”
I asked Jared about his experiences with the Festival. I ask him about any special foods he might eat.
Jared: Yeah, there are snacks. There’s this thing called mooncake, it’s kind of chewy – like mochi [japanese chewy sweet], it’s good, I like it. I have a lot of good memories of the Moon Festival. I’d say it’s nostalgic. As for other things, we sometimes play games. Like most things in Chinese culture, it’s pretty much centered around the family, so we spend a lot of time together.”
I tell Jared that I’m aware that Korea celebrates the Moon Festival as well. I was curious if he knew of any specific differences between the two.
Jared: I’m not entirely sure about all the differences, but I think they’re pretty similar. My Korean friends seem to know what I’m talking about when I talk about when I mention it.
As a Chinese-American, Jared celebrates a holiday known as “The Moon Festival”, which celebrates a general coming of the moon and the harvests that follow. He recounts nostalgic experiences with food, games, and family.
My roommate’s experience with the Moon Festival is not unlike the nostalgia most people associate with Western holidays like Halloween or Christmas. The use of the “festival” in different cultures holds a great significance to the individual. It’s “nostalgia” that in part motivates tradition to spread from one generation to the next.