Under the lights of paper lanterns, Samford students feasted on sizzling stir-fry, steaming rice, and rich mooncakes. As some struggled with their chopsticks before eventually abandoning them in favor of forks, other students relished in the dishes that remind them so much of home. Light-hearted conversation swirled between the tables as students gathered to experience a night celebrating Chinese culture.
On Thursday, Sept. 30, Samford’s Chinese Students and Scholars Association, in partnership with the International Club, hosted a Mid-Autumn Festival celebration. The night featured fun conversation, a rousing Kahoot game about the history of the festival, and traditional Chinese food catered by Red Pearl.
The Mid-Autumn Festival, sometimes called the Mooncake Festival, originated in China and is now celebrated by Chinese communities around the globe. The festival is traditionally celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar during a full moon.
President of Samford’s Chinese Students and Scholars Association Danielle Williams explained the meaning of the Mid-Autumn Festival.
“The Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated once a year, and it’s to celebrate the full moon and that signifies a full harvest, and the full harvest means that there’s good food,” Williams said.
One of the most popular foods shared during the Mid-Autumn Festival is the traditional Chinese mooncakes, which symbolize the full moon. The intricately decorated crusts of the mooncakes are stuffed with a very dense, rich filling made from a variety of ingredients that encompass a wide range of flavors. Fillings can be made from different nuts, dates, or bean paste.
Samford’s Mid-Autumn Festival featured a selection of different flavored mooncakes, supplemented with other Chinese staples, which is typical of the festival according to Williams.
“For the Mid-Autumn festival, (people) eat traditional Chinese foods like dumplings, rice noodles and good stir-fry,” Williams said. “But the main thing is the mooncakes because those are delicacies in China and they’re very expensive.”
Catering the mooncakes presented a challenge for CSSA and the International Club because they wanted the food to be as authentic as possible. Both organizations calculated the total cost of the event and each requested half of the total price from Samford’s Student Government Association.
“A big part of Chinese culture is food, and so that’s why the Mid-Autumn Festival was pretty expensive, but that’s something that I am willing to put money towards because it’s so important to Chinese culture,” Williams said. “Thankfully, SGA was very generous.”
In addition to the catering, the money was put toward purchasing table cloths, silverware, and decorations such as the lanterns.
This is the second event in recent years where the CSSA has partnered with the International Club, the first being the Chinese New Year celebration last semester. These two events are a part of the International Club’s mission to partner with organizations on campus to enrich the experience of international students.
President of the International Club Edward Garner discussed the mission of the International Club.
“International Club is just an organization that helps connect domestic students and international students,” Garner said. “We try to have events that allow interaction between them.”
Upcoming events from the International Club include a Día de Los Muertos event partnered with the Spanish club, a Thanksgiving event with the Multicultural Affairs Committee during International Education Week, and their annual Christmas brunch. For more information about these events, visit their Instagram, @samfordiclub.