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Monday Night Mooncakes at the Mid-Autumn Festival

The best way to end a Monday at Siena: coming together as community to indulge in desserts by the fire and learning about different cultures on campus. A special celebration brought good company to the Paddock on Sept. 24, 2018 as students came to partake in the Mid-Autumn Festival. Fall-themed lights were strung around the fire pit to give a sense of warmth to the chilly evening. Hosted by Siena’s very own Asian Student Association, mooncakes and apple cider were shared underneath the light of the full moon.

In East Asia, the Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated on the night of the full moon on the 15th day of the 8th month on the lunar calendar. “It is all about family. The whole point is it’s a time and place for a family to get together,” said Nabila Akhter, president of the Asian Student Association, when asked what the Mid-Autumn Festival was all about. She explained how, while there are many different variations of the stories behind the festival, the central theme is family. She graciously educated me and the other attendees on the Asian tradition while students were helping themselves to mooncakes as quickly as they could. The mooncake is a Chinese dessert that is filled with one of a variety of fillings and served during the Mid-Autumn festival. These fillings are typically lotus seed paste, sweet bean paste, jujube paste or mixed nuts paste and live within a flakey, chewy or tender crust. The pastries were a complete hit as they were finished off earlier into the evening.

Traditionally, the Mid-Autumn Festival served as a time to show appreciation towards the full moon since the age of the Shang Dynasty. Today, the celebration is more of a family reunion of sorts. It only seems fitting that the Asian Student Association brought this to Siena as some of their key goals as an organization are to unify students of Asian descent and to educate others of diverse cultures. Notably, the Asian Student Association is comprised of all different Asian backgrounds, rather than separate groups being arranged for each. By having a collective Asian Student Association, the group is able gain more knowledge from one another about the unique aspects of each Asian culture. If you are interested in joining ASA, e-mail n20akht@siena.edu for more information. 

Siena’s other student-run organizations always have postings online and around campus for upcoming events and, as students, we should take advantage of these opportunities as they come. Events such as this one act as a way for students to take a break from their coursework for a while and to enjoy life on campus. If you missed out on this week’s festivities, no need to worry. The Asian Student Association holds other celebrations on campus throughout the year, including Asian Pacific Heritage Month in April with smaller events for every weekend of the month. They also host Fall Fusion coming up in November in collaboration with other clubs. As for this year’s Mid Autumn Festival, filling the Paddock with laughter and treats on a Monday night sure gave campus the sense of family the festival is traditionally all about.