Homeschool Chinese: Celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival
As we have continued on our journey to learn Mandarin, another major goal that our tutor, Teacher Shawn (老师: Lǎoshī), and I share is that the children become knowledgeable of the Chinese culture. Once a month, he teaches all of us a culture lesson – sometimes we learn to cook a new recipe. Other times, he shares a children’s story. This month, our cultural focus was the Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节: Zhōngqiū Jié).
Like many cultures, China celebrates the annual harvest with a festival. Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the three most important, traditional Chinese holidays (the other two are Chinese New Year and the Dragon Boat Festival). The Mid-Autumn Festival takes place on the fifteenth day of the eighth month (according to the lunar calendar); therefore it fell on Sunday, September 30 this year. It is usually on or close to the time of the Harvest Moon, when the moon appears at its fullest during the autumn equinox. In China, it is traditionally a time to meet with friends and family for a meal and watch the moon.
We watched a short video that explained the significance of the Moon Festival in Chinese culture. We talked about how different cultures see different things in the moon (a man in the moon, a rabbit, or even a dragon in the full moon. We then enjoyed a video of Hayley Westenra & Shin singing The Moon Represents My Heart (月亮代表我的心: yuè liang dài biăo wŏ de xīn). We actually watched the video several times, following along with the lyrics that Teacher Shawn had printed out. Learning the first verse of this song was in fact homework for the weekend. At the conclusion of our lesson, we enjoyed eating our first traditional moon cake – sadly, the kids weren’t too fond of them. But alas, we might look for a different variety next year – perhaps green tea?
At home, we watched the animated story, The Moon Walks, I Walk / 月亮走，我也走 (Yuèliàng zǒu, wǒ yě zǒu), from the Better Chinese story collection and created a circle mini-book (谢谢, Jimmie!) to summarize what we had learned. I also read aloud the story, Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats. Lastly, we observed the moon in its full brilliance on Saturday night, beginning a month-long study of the lunar cycle.
Here are a few ways you can celebrate 中秋节 yourselves…
- Go outdoors at night and watch the moon.
- Visit with friends and family, especially over a good meal.
- Eat mooncakes.
- Read or write poetry about the moon.
- Learn a poem in Chinese.
- Make a craft.
- Learn about the science behind the annual harvest moon.