UB's Confucius Institute to Celebrate Chinese Moon Festival Sept. 30

Release Date: September 14, 2012

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A student from Capital Normal University is one of several Chinese performers who will appear at UB for the Moon Festival and tour Western New York schools.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo Asian Studies Program and its Confucius Institute will celebrate the Chinese Moon Festival, also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, on Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. in Slee Hall on UB's North Campus.

The free public event will feature live performances of traditional Chinese music and dance designed to evoke the spirit and traditions of the Chinese people.

Student artists from Beijing's Capital Normal University will perform on the guzheng (similar to a zither), erhu (a two-stringed instrument played with a bow) and gourd flute. They also will offer dancing and acrobatics that involve the Chinese yoyo and monocycle.

The Moon Festival has been celebrated by Chinese and Vietnamese people for more than 3,000 years. It dates to the practice of moon worship in the ancient Shang Dynasty, and remains one of the most important celebrations in the Chinese calendar.

This is the third year that the Confucius Institute has organized a performance tour in conjunction with the Moon Festival celebration.

This year, the tour will take place the week following the Sept. 30 performance. The Capital Normal University students will perform in several Western New York schools to help local students and teachers better understand traditional Chinese culture.

"Students in the Buffalo area are interested in Chinese culture, and have enjoyed the school performances by the Beijing students in the past two years," says Eric Yang, executive director of the institute, "and we are pleased that both the celebration and school tour have become annual events."

The Moon festival is held on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese calendar. This year, it falls on Sept. 22, the same date as the 2012 autumn equinox, when the moon is at its fullest.

"The Moon Festival is a legal holiday in China and several other Asian countries, and farmers celebrate the end of the summer harvesting season on this date," says Qiaomei Lu, associate director of the UB Confucius Institute.

"Traditionally," she says, "the Chinese will gather with family and friends to admire the harvest moon and eat moon cakes and pomelos under the moon."

Lu explains that the moon cake -- 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 native to Southeast Asia. The planting of mid-autumn trees, dragon dances and burning incense are also associated with the celebration.

The UB Confucius Institute, part of a network of 350 such institutes around the world that promote Chinese language and culture.

In Western New York, it is a collaborative program involving the UB Asian Studies Program; Capital Normal University, a 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@buffao.edu.

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