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Tri-Cities Chinese Association celebrates Moon Festival, honors heritage

Zhufang Liu
Traditional dishes and cultural activity booths were featured at the Langston Centre.

Though the full moon is still days away, Johnson City’s Langston Centre filled with Chinese lanterns, traditional dishes, and cultural activity booths on Saturday in an early celebration of the upcoming Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival. The event, hosted by the Tri-Cities Chinese Association (TCCA) and Asian Pacific Excellence (APEX) Eastman Resource Group, brought together over 150 attendees from the region in honor of a shared heritage. 

The Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated on the full moon during the 8th month of the Chinese lunar calendar. The festival has roots in the legend of Chang’e, the Moon goddess in Chinese mythology. Jing Nie, current chair of the TCCA and key event organizer, expands on the cultural importance of the holiday. 

“I think that appreciating the moon is a very important theme in Chinese holidays. The Mid-Autumn Festival is supposed to be when the moon is the biggest and most beautiful of the year. It is also a harvest moon where, in ancient China’s agricultural civilization, people celebrated their hard work,” Nie says. 

Overall, she explains that the holiday is similar to American Thanksgiving. “Families can get back together, share food, and appreciate the moon.” Nie also touches on the festival’s significance in her personal experience as an immigrant. 

“Growing up in China, the moon festival and other celebrations were just things you did every year, so I didn’t really think to question the importance of the holiday. It’s like fish living in water– you don’t realize you’re surrounded by water while you’re in it.” 

However, Nie says that immigrating to America helped change her perspective on the importance of Chinese culture. “Here, “ she explains, “these celebrations don’t happen automatically. You have to put some effort into keeping that culture present, and it helps you appreciate events like these more.” 

Yan Jin, who will serve as the next chair of the TCCA, says that many immigrants to the Tri-Cities feel the same way. 

“It’s super important for new folks to find an organization or group that they feel comfortable and at home in, a place where they can talk in Chinese and make friends. Our shared culture, even little things like the same taste in food, makes a lot of recent immigrants feel welcome.”

A harvest basket with winter melon and fresh eggs. (Zhufang Liu)

Along with a potluck feast and backyard harvest show, the event offered a range of cultural activities, from Chinese calligraphy to lantern riddles. These activities, says Nie, are aimed at helping especially second-generation Chinese-Americans feel connected with their heritage. 

A traditional Chinese lantern is pictured, one of many decorating the building. (Zhufang Liu)

“Kids who were born here in the U.S. don’t necessarily have access to all the information and immersion their parents did, so hopefully these fun activities can give these kids more tangible experience in some of the elements of this celebration,” Nie says. 

With funding and preparation, Jin says that the TCCA hopes to continue celebrating important Chinese holidays and expanding community outreach. 

“While I think that fundraising may be a challenge in the coming year due to the economic situation and inflation, I can see that these things don’t affect people’s passion to participate in these events,” says Jin.  “Everyone contributes in the way they can.”

Nie also states that the TCCA hopes to participate in multicultural events in the future. “A lot of people don’t realize that there is a small but growing Chinese community in this area, but they are pleasantly surprised to find out. Hopefully, as we grow we’ll be able to spread more awareness and start interacting with other cultural heritage groups to promote inclusion.”

For now though, Chinese-American community members are content with the event’s success. “It always exceeds expectations,” Jin says fondly. 

Nie shares some final words on the deeper meaning of the day. 

“The Moon Festival is a way to appreciate what has been given to you for free. We can spend all the fortune in this world, but we can’t build another moon. It’s just there for everybody to see. That’s why we use this day to be thankful and celebrate life.”

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About the Contributor
Sophia Stone
Sophia Stone, Editor-In-Chief
Sophia, senior, joined the Hilltopper Herald her freshman year as a features writer. In addition to her executive role in the Herald, Sophia has reported for the Johnson City Press on teen mental health and youth issues. She has a passion for journalism, literature, cello, and public forum debate. Her favorite book series is Harry Potter (proud Slytherin) and her hobbies include doom scrolling the news, refreshing 538 polls daily, and procrastinating.
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