Asian Studies Department’s Mid-Autumn Festival Celebration

Yulin Mao, Staff Writer

On Sept. 17, a Mid-Autumn Festival performance was held at the Mullen Performing Art Center on campus. 

The Mid-Autumn Festival has its roots in the celestial cult, which evolved from the worship of the moon in ancient times. Later, its date (8.15 in lunar calendar) coincided with the phase of the full moon. Due to the “fullness” of the moon’s circle shape, the festival was given the meaning of reunion. Similar holidays are celebrated mainly in East Asia and Southeast Asia.

“Chinese study has held the celebrations for autumn festival and Chinese New Year since 2008,” said Hailin Zhou, Villanova’s Asian Studies director.

At Villanova, the Mid-Autumn Festival is not only about fun.

 “We want the students, not only the Chinese students, but the whole school to know more about Chinese traditions, and of course we want our students, through the food and performance, the students of Villanova learn more about Chinese cultures,” Zhou said. 

One part of the show was a skit written and performed by students in the Chinese department. Creative elements were incorporated into the process, such as homophone and poems. 

Patrick Riss, one of the performers and hosts, discussed an interesting detail. 

“Jennifer [organizer, host] devised a prank for us to pull on Mitch [host] where I would recite an old Chinese poem and Mitch would,” Riss said. “It was a very interesting session.” 

“The skit turned out really well, as it got the audience to laugh quite a bit,” Becca Wang, another skit planner, said.

The success of the Mid-Autumn Festival Event also belongs to international students.

This celebration featured performances by a number of international students, including a choir of graduate students and some undergraduates, as well as musical instruments and dance performances. 

The core of the team is Luyu Zhang, Villanova Visiting Scholar from China Conservatory of Music, who rehearsed the Graduate Student Choir and played the Alto and Guqin. 

Luyu wrote in an interview that she had been thinking about this performance for half a year. As a professional music scholar, she chose traditional Chinese music for the show, including folk songs from various Chinese provinces. 

Activities organized by the Chinese department for the Festival gave the students a sense of belonging. The Chinese students club in Villanova (CSSA) was temporarily closed during the pandemic until it just restarted this semester, so events held by the Chinese Department are sources for students to connect.

Of course, in addition to the student performances, the traditional arts and food act as one of the best parts of the celebration. For example, mooncakes, the traditional snack of the Mid-Autumn Festival, are frequently featured in various Mid-Autumn related events.

The Chinese Department will release the performance video after getting permission from all the performers. If one is interested in similar events, stay tuned to the Chinese and the Asian Studies department.