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Asia Town's Mooncake Festival offers scant food and performances, far less than expected

Melanie Sayre

Issue date: 9/24/10 Section: Focus
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CWRU student Hannah Jenkins creates a paper lantern, one of the few relevant activities available at this year's Mooncake Festival.
CWRU student Hannah Jenkins creates a paper lantern, one of the few relevant activities available at this year's Mooncake Festival.
[Click to enlarge]
Stretching across cultures, the sun and the moon are symbolically powerful. Many have turned them into deities to pay their respects. For the moon, generally considered a female god, there is Artemis of the Greeks, Khons of the Egyptians, Arma of the Hittites, and Coyolxauhqui ofa the Aztecs, among many others. Chang E, the Chinese moon goddess, is at the center of one of the most commonly celebrated Asian festivals today.

Originally solely a Chinese holiday, the Mooncake festival is now celebrated by many different Asian cultures. As the other major holiday besides Chinese New Year and the Winter Solstice, it holds the reputation of being a glamorous and stunning celebration. The event is typically on the 15th day of the eighth month on the Chinese calendar, which usually puts the occasion sometime in September on the Gregorian calendar. The event itself is centered on the full moon, which symbolizes fullness and harmony, and under which families reunite to celebrate.

This year, Cleveland's Asian Town Center hosted the Mooncake Festival on Sept. 18. Only about 10 minutes off campus, it was relatively easy for students to access. Unfortunately, the event didn't measure up to the true splendor of a real festival. Even someone with low expectations would be slightly disappointed in the result, and someone with no knowledge of the event would have been unimpressed.

It was mostly made up of little table booths advertising and selling items that were in no way connected to the festival. The closest thing that retained any of the culture of a festival was a small table for visitors to create simple paper lanterns. Though cute, it couldn't make up for the lack of everything else. What could have helped the whole festival was bringing in cultural elements-samplings of different mooncakes, strings of genuine lit paper lanterns, burning incense, or a Dragon Dance would all have helped legitimize this festival. It's hard to have a good Mooncake Festival without good mooncakes.

Despite the absence of creativity in the appearance, there were decent, but short, performances by Case's own Asian-American Alliance and the Icho Daiko Taiko Ensemble.
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Focus

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