URI to celebrate ancient Chinese Moon Festival

Music, dance performance set for Sept. 25

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KINGSTON, R.I. . – September 20, 2016 – Dancers, desserts and martial arts. They all are part of the joyful celebration of the Chinese Moon Festival, an ancient tradition dating back more than 3,000 years to China’s Zhou Dynasty.

The University of Rhode Island’s Confucius Institute and Chinese Flagship Program will host their sixth annual celebration of the ancient ritual with several events and workshops.

Artists from China University of Geoscience will perform traditional Chinese music and dance on Sept. 25 in Edwards Hall, 44 Upper College Road on the Kingston campus. An opening reception with traditional Chinese Moon Cakes – a pastry with a dense, sweet filling – dumplings, spring rolls, chicken wings and other food will begin at 4:30 p.m., with the dance performance beginning at 5:30 p.m.

The Moon Festival is one of the most important celebrations in China – similar to Thanksgiving in the United States. Initially, it was held to give thanks for the harvest and moon, a symbol of peace, harmony and unity in Chinese culture. Over the years, it has evolved into a gathering for family members to eat dinner, make mooncakes, light up Kongming lanterns and celebrate the joy of life. In China, the day is an official holiday off from work.

“That’s the day for families to hold reunions,” said Wayne Wenchao He, director of URI’s Chinese Language Flagship Program and URI’s Confucius Institute. “In ancient times, there was no television, so families came together to sit in the yard, watch the moon and enjoy moon cakes, fruits and other food.”

Traditionally held on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month of the calendar, the Chinese Moon Festival will be celebrated a bit later than usual this year to accommodate the schedule of a native Chinese dance troupe.

There will also be activities including paper folding, paper cutting and calligraphy. The event is free and open to the public.

In addition to Sunday’s event, master Dong Zeng Chen will conduct a Tai Chi workshop in the Multicultural Center Oct. 7, from 4 to 6 p.m.

“We invite the community to join us for this joyful and culturally enlightening event,” He said. “The Moon Festival is a wonderful celebration in the Chinese culture, and we want to share it with our friends.”