Chinese Characters (Simplified): 中秋节
Chinese Characters (Traditional): 中秋節
Transliteration: Middle – Autumn – Holiday
Free Translation: Mid-Autumn Festival
Me: 中秋节的时候，你做什么？(What do you do during Mid-Autumn Festival?)
Informant: 我去买中秋月饼 (I go to buy Mid-Autumn Festival Mooncakes)，吃中秋月饼 (eat them)，然后晚上来我就出去看bright moon (and then in the evening I go out to see the bright moon)。然后了(after that)， 我打电话给我的爸爸因为中秋节就是 (I call my dad because Mid-Autumn Festival is) it’s a rounded moon so want to means kind of uh united with your relatives, your parents.
So at the time, sometime, make me a little homesick. Sometime I also go to a party like in your community. you know Chinese association sometime in the past before COVID will have uh uh uh mid-fall festival party, potluck. And then, there are, they distribute like uh moon cake.
Me: 你小时候 (When you were younger)，like, did you do other things or different things when you were at home with your family?
Informant: Back at home, uh so in you know in Shanghai, uhhh so the uh we will go visit relatives. So they come to our home bring a box of moon cake and some other stuff and we go to their home and brought a box of moon cake so you kind of like visit each other it’s a time, kind of connect to each other.
Me: You mentioned, like, how, like the full moon means like connecting to other people and stuff like that. Could you tell me more about that?
Informant: So full moon, in Chinese means 圆yuǎn . So Chinese has a phrase called tuányuǎn团圆. it means united [means reunion via Google Translate], so uh so the moon is rounded right, so pronounced yuǎn [圆] so people get together all the people get together is called tuǎnyuǎn is the same yuǎn. so so so so it’s the time uh people look at the moon and uh miss their family, and miss the people that already passed, their ancestors or something. And some people will think their hometown if they’re not at home. Just a lot of when we enjoy the beautiful moon, celebrate it, is also the time to connected as a family, gather together tuǎnyuǎn means gather together. So it would be good if we could, on that day, all be together. Sometime we cannot, then we look at the moon and think oh we all share the same moon, and we kind of like, breathing (??) to each other through the bright moon.
Me: Was there a point as a kid where you first started celebrating or learned about it?
Informant: Oh ever since I can remember things, it’s always every year that way.
Me: Did they ever try to kill ZhongQiuJie during Communism?
Informant: Oh no no no, that’s a very tradition holiday for the people. So, Chinese government actually is uh support that. That’s a good uh you know way to connect the people, and Chinese is pretty good in family, right. So, you know, they didn’t.
Me: What’s the significance of ZhongQiuJie to you?
Informant: Ummm I’m more connected to, think about my mom, and think about you guys, when you guys when you were not home. And I just feel like oh we all look at the same moon, and we are all connected that way. It’s that time that I will sit there and look at the moon and also I take pictures y’know. I like bright moon, it’s beautiful, it’s kind of like I want to go out take pictures. And I also just you know think the people close to me. You know, my mom, my dad, you guys
Context of Performance: Collected from an in-person conversation.
To me, ZhongQiuJie was always just an excuse to eat mooncakes. However, it’s not surprising to hear that this festival is about family. China is incredibly old, and for the longest time people did not have much physical mobility. People would stay in a particular place for centuries. In addition, add Confucianism’s intense focus on family, and you have a society devoted to family. It is interesting, however, to learn that this festival has a ton of linguistic ties. Why is the character for round in reunion? Why did people in the past see the moon and think “oh that’s round”?