On Thursday, Sept. 22 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., UMass Lowell celebrated in its first annual Night Market Festival.
The Mid-Autumn festival is celebrated by ethnic Chinese and Vietnamese people as well as some other East Asian countries. The festival is usually held on the fifteenth day of the eigth month of the lunar calendar with a full moon at night, corresponding to late September to early October of the Gregorian calendar with a full moon in sight. Night markets are prominent and common places to have street food in Asia. Traditionally, it is a harvest festival to gather and give thanks. Some traditions include hanging up bright red and yellow lanterns, crafting paper lanterns and eating mooncakes.
The Campus Recreation Center was beautifully lit with glowing paper lanterns, strings of paper cranes, lights and many booths. Within these booths were various activities such as arts and crafts, mini-games and even a photo booth. People were enjoying the night and some were even spotted playing hacky sack. Traditional food and drinks such as mooncakes and tea were also available to sample while dumplings, crab Rangoon’s, kababs and limeade were available to purchase.
The mooncake actually symbolizes more than just a dessert. Most mooncakes consist of a thin, tender pastry skin enveloping a sweet, dense filling, and may contain one or more whole salted egg yolks in their center as the symbol of the full moon. Traditional mooncakes have an imprint on top consisting of the Chinese characters for “longevity” or “harmony.” Mooncakes are typically offered between friends or on family gatherings while celebrating this festival.
The teas served were black tea, mango white tea, cinnamon chai tea and a passion fruit tea which are all very traditional to Chinese and Vietnamese culture.
Noel Shay, a student that attended this event, said that she was “thrilled to learn more about this community and enjoy the different things they had to offer at the event.” She even tried the passion fruit tea as well as a mooncake and was very surprised to bite into an egg yolk.
Alex Sun, the president of the Student Association of Chinese Americans, and Ashly Tran, the president of the Vietnamese Student Association, have worked together to plan this festival since June. Both of them wanted to have this event so they could cater to both Chinese and Vietnamese culture to the UMass Lowell community. Sun said that he and Tran decided to combine the two events together “giving our students the best of both worlds: good food and good company.”
Furthermore, they decided to bolster this event by inviting the Cambodian American Student Association, the Mongolian Student Association, the Association of Campus Events (ACE) and the Asian Task Force against Domestic Violence at various tables at the event. The games, arts and crafts, photo booth, tea and mooncake tasting tents were staffed by those from VSA and SACA e-boards.
This event proved to be a success, and according to Sun, over 200 students passed through. Tran also said that they are really happy to have it be a huge success. Finally, Sun said that he would like to thank SACA and VSA executive board, and their wonderful volunteers for making this event possible.