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Traditional Chinese festival set to illuminate Ohio State’s Oval

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Ohio State is set to get a taste of Chinese culture as part of a traditional Chinese festival.

The Chinese Student and Scholar Society is slated to put on a fair on the Oval on Sept. 26 to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival.

The festival, also known as Harvest Festival, is an annual Chinese tradition where families gather and give thanks for the year’s harvest and pray for the next. It’s held on a night with a full moon in mid-September. and this year’s festival begins Monday.

“For Chinese students, it is the most-awaited festival event,” said Song Zhang, a fourth-year in economics. “It is like Americans celebrating Christmas … We love the festival and we celebrate it wherever we go.”

People often celebrate by lighting lanterns and firecrackers and making mooncakes. Participants eat the sweet-filled pastries in observation of a tale told every year during the festival.

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The story says that in ancient times, a powerful archer, Yi Hou, was asked by a Jade Emperor to shoot down nine out of 10 suns to cool down the earth. But he failed. As a punishment, the emperor locked his wife, Chang’e in a palace on the moon. Every year, when the moon fulfills its fullness, Yi Hou’s neighbors make mooncakes and watch the moon with Hou to remember Chang’e.

Sticking to tradition, the event on the Oval is set to be that of a temple fair, complete with food, performances and souvenirs, said Haoyu Lu, a CSSS representative and third-year in actuarial science.

Traditionally, a temple fair, also known as Miaohui, is a Chinese worship event held adjacent to a temple.

Lu said the temple fair format for this year’s event is aimed at getting people involved.

“We are trying to create a more relaxed and open-minded environment,” she said. “People can experience and participate in Chinese culture activities and interact with one another.”

Lu said the temple fair involves performances such as calligraphy, tea art and martial arts demonstrations. Traditional Chinese artwork will be on display and Chinese souvenirs will be handed out, Lu said.

Both Chinese students and those not from China said they plan to take part in the festivities.

“I’ve heard that mooncakes story about Chang’e, and celebration parties are the most major important aspects for the festival,” said Nateesha Charles, a fourth-year student in history and anthropology. “I feel that American students should experience different cultural events and I will definitely participate in this year’s temple fair.”

Zhang agreed that the legend is an important part of the festival.

“Chang’e is the most known character in Chinese traditional culture,” Zhang said. “Remembering Chang’e is just an excuse. The main purpose nowadays is for people to unite with families and catch up.”

Zhang also encouraged students to attend the event.

“The Mid-Autumn Festival could be a great chance for students, no matter Chinese or Americans, to take (a break) from school in order to enjoy delicious mooncakes and make new friends,” Zhang said.

The event on the Oval is slated to run from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

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