Musings on the moon for Chinese Language Week 

Musings on the moon for Chinese Language Week 

New Zealand Chinese Language Week is this week, 26 September – 2 October. The week aims to facilitate cultural communication and understanding. In this myView blog, student Ruoxi Hu explains some of the symbolism of the moon through Chinese poems and traditions.

Psychology and Education student Ruoxi Hu at the lantern party at Xi’an City Wall in 2020.

Gathering under the moon

“海上生明月, 天涯共此时。”

The English translation of these lines can be interpreted in the following ways:

“As the bright moon shines over the sea, from far away you share this moment with me.” —— Thinking of Far Away in the Moonlight(《望月怀远》)

This poem was written by noted poet and scholar of the Tang Dynasty Zhang Jiuling(张九龄), 678-740. It depicts the image of the poet gazing upon the bright autumn moon, then he immediately thinks his loved one far away might be also watching the moon, hoping his messages could be conveyed to the loved one on the other side through the moon. This moon carries a sincere eagerness for reunion in this scenario.

A colourful evening under Xi’an City wall

The moon

To the Chinese, a full moon is a symbol of completeness, prosperity, reunion etc. The moon had become a typical image and eternal theme in arts and embedded deeply in the tradition.  For example, the moon is believed to be the roundest and biggest on August 15th of the lunar calendar, which is the time to mark the important traditional festival — Mid-Autumn Festival.

This festival embodies people’s vision for a harmonious and happy life. On that day, people would usually put aside their busy schedules, gather with their families, watch the moon, light lanterns, celebrate this special moment of contentment, and my favorite part — yummy moon cakes! 🥮 There are so many flavours available and I really recommend you try the classic egg yolk flavour. Make sure you don’t miss out on that part!

Moon cakes — Flavours can vary from red bean paste to roasted spicy beef!

The Mid-Autumn Festival originated in China but is celebrated across the world. We share this moment of happiness just as we share the same earth and the same bright moon. Even though we might be miles apart, when looking at the same round moon, we meet together across time and space, share our best wishes under the moonlight.

I was delighted to introduce some Chinese culture from my understanding. This week would be a great opportunity to enjoy some Chinese cuisine and culture. Head over to the web page and stay tuned for more exciting stuff and events. I hope you all have a fun week!

Ruoxi Hu is a third-year international student studying Psychology and Education.

Interested in sharing your experience? Read our submission guidelines and get in touch with your story ideas.