Moon Cakes Celebrate Chinese Holiday

Amanda Young, Business Editor

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Language instructor Sabrina Wun’s Mandarin 1, 2, and 3 classes made mooncakes, traditional Chinese desserts shaped like moons, on September 28 to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Students created booklets with information about the history and cultural significance of the food and the holiday. They also presented their mooncakes to teachers around campus.

Wun’s own childhood inspired the project. “What I remember the most from my childhood was spending holidays with my family and making moon cakes and rice dumplings for the Dragon Boat Festival,” she said. “When I think of having [the] students celebrate the Chinese Moon holiday, making the mooncakes is a fun way for them to remember this holiday and learn about it.”

In groups of 3-4, students had to prepare the dough wrap outside of class using ingredients such as wheat starch, rice flour, glutinous rice flour, coconut milk, sugar, water, and oil.

“I was pretty nervous; this was the 1st time I tried having [the students] make the dough at home, so I did worry a lot before it happened today,” Wun said. “Some groups didn’t show up with the rice dough; some failed their dough, but luckily I had some [prepared] and some groups shared their dough, too.”

The students filled balls of the dough with a sweet red bean paste and used silicone molds to shape them like mooncakes. Instead of making traditional moon cakes, however, they made snow skin mooncakes, which don’t require baking.

Freshman Mandarin 2 student April Mao said, “you can’t really know a culture unless you know their stories.”

“It was interesting to be able to experience the culture for someone who isn’t around it very often,” agreed sophomore Cooper Schnurr, a student in Mandarin 3.

Wun solicited pre-approval from teachers before students offered them their cakes. Students were evaluated on the appearance and presentation of the mooncakes, which included an explanation of the holiday.

“I thought [presenting] went really well. I ended up presenting to the whole class but I thought it went really well because then not only are we learning it in Mandarin, we’re also teaching people about our culture,” said Mao, whose group presented to history teacher Lindsay Webb-Peploe.

“[Overall] it went pretty smoothly, not as perfect as I wished, but I think that it went pretty smoothly. The most important thing is that I hope everyone enjoyed it; I think that everyone enjoyed it,” Wun concluded.

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