UB's Confucius Institute Celebrates Chinese Moon Festival with Music and Dance

Beijing students will offer a free performance at UB followed by a tour of local schools

Release Date: September 22, 2011

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Confucius Institute at the University at Buffalo will celebrate the Chinese Moon Festival on Oct. 1 with the presentation of a free public performance of music and dance by highly accomplished student artists from the College of Music, Capital Normal University, Beijing.

The performance will take place at 7 p.m. in Slee Hall, UB North Campus.

In the days following the Oct. 1 performance, the Beijing students will perform at several Western New York schools to help students and teachers better understand traditional Chinese culture. The sites they will visit include City Honors School, the Depew Union Free School District and the Silver Creek School District.

The Moon Festival, a popular harvest gala, has been celebrated by Chinese and Vietnamese people for more than 3,000 years. It dates back to moon worship in China's Shang Dynasty (roughly 1556 B.C. to 1046 B.C.) and remains one of the most important celebrations in the Chinese calendar.

This is the second year that the UB Confucius Institute has organized a performance tour in conjunction with the Moon Festival celebration. Last year it hosted a performance by the Chinese Opera.

Eric Yang, executive director of the Confucius Institute at UB says, "Students in the Buffalo area are very interested in Chinese culture and really enjoyed the school performances by the Beijing students last year. We are very pleased that the celebration and school tour have become annual events."

The Moon Festival is traditionally held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar, which is usually around late September or early October in the Gregorian calendar. This year the actual festival date fell on Sept. 12, the same date as the 2010 autumn equinox in the solar calendar, when the moon is at its fullest and roundest.

"The Moon Festival is a legal holiday in China and several other Asian countries," says Xiaopeng Du, the Confucius Institute's Chinese director, "and farmers celebrate the end of the summer harvesting season on this date. Traditionally, the Chinese will gather with family and friends to admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon, and eat moon cakes and pomelos under the moon together."

Du explained that the mooncake -- of which there are many varieties -- is the traditional food of this festival, which is why the celebration is sometimes referred to as the "Mooncake Festival." The pomelo is a citrus fruit, similar to grapefruit, native to Southeast Asia and also associated with the Moon Festival. The celebration is also commonly marked by the planting of mid-autumn trees, the burning of incense and dragon dances, believed to have begun as part of the farming and harvest culture in the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. to A.D. 220).

The UB Confucius Institute is part of a network of 300 such institutes around the world and promotes the teaching of Chinese language and culture in Western New York. The institute is a collaborative program involving UB's Asian Studies Program in the College of Arts and Sciences; Capital Normal University, a longstanding UB educational partner in Beijing; and the Chinese Language Council International (Hanban).

For more information about the Confucius Institute and the Moon Festival celebration, contact Eric Yang at 716-645-7919 or wenzhong@buffalo.edu.

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