Harvest Moon Festival

The informant is a junior at USC. She is of Chinese origin, but was born and raised in America. Kim talks about the Harvest Moon Festival and elaborates on what the festival means to her and the Chinese culture.


Kim: “It falls on, like, August 15th on the Lunar calendar, and that’s usually around September on our calendar, and it’s actually my chinese birthday because I was born on that holiday”


Me: “Are you gonna go home and see your family and stuff?”


Kim: “Well we’ll be in school, but I’ll go home on the weekend. The moon is, like, really important to the chinese culture and lunar calendar. And also, like, back when people were farm raised in agriculture, they relied on the moon and they would know, like, if these crops were good…Harvest moon, I think, is, like, the biggest harvest of the year or something, and it’s also the biggest full moon. So if you look in the sky, it’ll be the brightest and the biggest.”


Me: “So is it, like, a celebration of like agriculture?”


Kim: “Yeah, it used to be, but right now it’s just another holiday where we get together and stuff.”


Me: “So you get together and you, like, cook?”


Kim: “Yeah, we eat together and then the biggest things that you eat are mooncakes, which is…”


Me:”… symbolic of the moon?”


Kim: “Yeah, like, one thing that’s interesting is that, ya know, in America, the moon is, like, a dark story thing?”


Me: “Yeah, it’s more like a spooky, like werewolfs…”


Kim: “Yeah, but in Chinese culture, it’s a very good thing, like, it’s bright and warm.”


Me: “ Is there anything else specifically to this holiday that’s specific to celebrating it?”


Kim: “Usually we’ll go to like the temple.”


Me: “Is it like the Chinese temple?”


Kim: “Buddhist. I don’t know if that it’s only because my family is buddhist that we go to temple.”


Me: “That’s just what YOU do?”


Kim: “I’m not sure, because I know a lot of Chinese people are Christian, like more so than buddhist and they may go to temple also. But yeah, the temples have big celebrations too and have dragon dances for the holiday too.”


Me: “Oh dragon dances? Cool! So why is this holiday significant or not significant? Like, what does it mean to you and your family?”


Kim: “Just another reason for us to come together, because we don’t usually celebrate Christmas and other things. Like they aren’t big for us, but this is big for us. And then mooncakes are always a big deal. Like, you’ll go to your relatives houses just to bring them mooncakes and we’ll have so many.”


Me: “So does your mom bake mooncakes every year?”


Kim: “I think some people do, but we just buy them.”


Me: “That’s so interesting because I wonder what it tastes like. Is it like vanilla?”


Kim: “No, it has its own taste.”


Me: “Is it, like, hard to describe?”


Kim: “I mean, I don’t like it”


Me: “What would you compare the taste to?”


Kim: “like, oreo?”


Me: “So does it even taste like cake?”


Kim: “No not like our cake, like spongy, bread cake. It’s like a paste.Sometimes they stuff it with red bean, which is sweet. It’s like a desert, kind of.”

The moon seems to be another important symbol in Chinese culture. In fact, Many different cultures have different meanings and affiliations associated with the moon, but the lunar cycle is something worth celebrating for Chinese families. Unlike Chinese culture,  agriculture and the Harvest season are not greatly emphasized in American society. This could be due to modern America being both urbanized and industrialized where farming and agriculture aren’t common practices.