Inspiring Community Grant Spotlight: Mooncake Festival

Image: The planning committee: Lily, Defne, Adelia, Shreyansh (not shown: Sang, Hannah, Clarise, Shahezad) —

Mooncake Festival Brings Peace, Prosperity and Success to Start Off the School Year

Starting off the new school semester with the roundest and brightest full moon of the year gave UBC student and Inspiring Community grant project leader, Adelia Vu, the perfect opportunity to celebrate the Mooncake Festival with the community. Sharing this special holiday with others was important for Adelia as she wanted community members to reunite with one another and make new connections — after all, this is what the Mooncake Festival is all about!

As Adelia wrote in her grant application, the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, also known as Mooncake Festival, is an ancient festival with roots in harvest celebrations and moon worshiping rituals. It occurs on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month and is uniquely celebrated in Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and many other East Asian cultures.

Outside of the Nest, Adelia greets those passing by the pop-up celebration booth with trivia to learn the origins and traditions of this festival, followed by a mooncake, lucky fruit and a refreshing green tea. As the event wrapped up, I had the chance to speak with Adelia about her project.

Teanna: What inspired you to host the Mooncake Festival?

Adelia:The Mooncake Festival is one of my favorite traditional celebration because I was born on the day of the Mooncake Festival that year. I’ve always loved the atmosphere and joy of the festival, and how the holiday reminds people to gather, be grateful and give thanks. Since moving to UBC, I haven’t seen this holiday being celebrated on campus and thought that maybe there were others that miss celebrating this holiday too.

Teanna: Tell us more about what the Mooncake Festival celebrates.

Adelia: The full moon symbolizes peace, prosperity, and family. Across different cultures, various activities are held to celebrate the moon, from worshiping the Moon goddess, to making and lighting lanterns, to lion dance parades. This year's Mooncake festival falls around the “back-to-school" season, so it's a great time to reunite with old friends and make new connections.

Teanna: What impact do you think your event had on UBC, especially hosting it during the first week of classes?

Adelia: This is the first year since the start of the pandemic where activities are “back to normal,” so I wanted to offer this event during the first week of the school year. Even though there are many other events happening during First Week, students were excited about this event. I met many students that recently arrived on campus and they were excited to see the Mooncake Festival on campus because they knew what the holiday was! UBC is a big campus and at times, it can feel like nobody relates to you. For the event, we had a poster with greetings in many different languages, and I think having that poster, as well as celebrating the Mooncake Festival goes a long way for students to feel connected to a piece of home, while sharing it with their new community.

Teanna: As an aspiring events planner, what did you learn from organizing this event that you'll carry with you when you plan future events?

Adelia: Being resourceful and flexible at the face of challenge was an important lesson I learned. Initially I had a vision of this being a big “sit down” style event with performances and catering. As I started recruiting team members, I realized that there were many events happening during First Week, and had to brainstorm ways to still deliver the essence of the festival while reaching as many students as possible. The team decided to change the format to a smaller scale pop up event where attendees could still enjoy mooncakes and learn about the holiday through a trivia game. This gave me the chance to share the traditions and the folk stories through a trivia game. Looking back, I’m really happy with this event format as it allowed for more of the budget to be spent on buying mooncakes... I think we gave out 170 to 200 mooncakes to students who stopped by!

If you have a holiday celebration to share with the community, learn more on how the Inspiring Community grant can fund your ideas.

Interview Date: September 9, 2022

Interview and Photos by: Teanna Bailey, Community Programmer at UTown@UBC