A colorful array of traditional festivities are coming to URI in honor of the Chinese Moon Festival to celebrate the joy and peace of the full harvest moon in China.  

The event is held in honor of the ancient Chinese ritual of gathering to rejoice the harvest during the autumn season and celebrate the moon’s fullness during this time of year. A variety of performances will be presented throughout the event by the URI chapter of the Confucius Institute

Dr. Wayne Wenchao He, the director of the URI Confucius Institute and professor of Chinese, compares the moon festival to its American counterpart, Thanksgiving Day.

“In Thanksgiving here, people try to get home [and have] a family reunion,” said Wenchao He. “That’s also the same for the moon festival in China. In the past, thousands of years ago, there was no TV. Nothing to enjoy inside. They’d sit outside, drink some tea, have some mooncakes and fruit and look at the moon. So now it’s become a tradition. Families still get together, they still serve mooncakes.”

Last year was the 10th anniversary of The Confucius Institute’s establishment in Beijing. Since its beginning, the Institute has spread its influence worldwide including 100 communities throughout the United States.

Dating back to the Shang dynasty, approximately 3,000 years ago, the Chinese would give thanks for a bountiful harvest and the moon, which stood as a symbol of peace, unity and harmony. The moon is said to be the biggest and brightest all year round on the day of celebration, which is a Chinese national holiday. The moon festival has evolved into the modern tradition of eating dinner as a family, lighting paper Kongming lanterns and making mooncakes, a type of Chinese pastry.

The celebration begins on Saturday, September 26th at 5 p.m. in Edwards Auditorium with a reception, including Chinese food such as spring rolls and dumplings provided by a Middletown Chinese restaurant. Mooncakes, the trademark dessert of the festival, will be provided by a Chinese market from Boston.

The warm-up act will be performed by the first year students of URI’s Flagship program with children from the Chinese Culture Club, who will do a group dance called “The Little Apple” starting at 5 p.m. The rest of the show will be performed by a 25 person group from the Shandong Normal University, a Chinese college for educators, whose New England tour is sponsored by the Confucius Institute headquarters in Beijing. This group specializes in a series of acts such as martial arts, singing, musical instruments and dance.

The show is scheduled to last about an hour and a half, concluding at 7:30 p.m. Entry is free and open to the public, but donations to the Confucius Institute are welcome and appreciated.