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When Mid-Autumn Meets Teacher’s Day: Gratitude Delivered by PKUers through Mooncakes


From Nanyan News Agency

Its amazing to witness the memorable day. I would like to wish all PKU students and teachers a happy Mid-Autumn Day! said LEI Haoran, a first-year MA student at Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School (PKUSZ).

This years Mid-Autumn festival (中秋节) falls on the 10th day of the 9th solar month, September 10th, which is also Chinas Teachers Day (中国教师节). The coincidence made it exciting for both teachers and students at PKUSZ who longed for a reunion with each other.


 Wish cards hanging on the fortune tree

First coincidence in history, next in 2041

Ever since September 10 was officially named Teachers Day in China in 1985, it has always been a day of expressing gratitude by Chinese students to their respectable and beloved teachers. This year, September 10 in the solar calendar meets August 15 in the lunar calendar -- the day Chinese people gather for dinners, eat mooncakes and worship the moon, which is the Mid-Autumn festival.

This is the very first time in history that the two special occasions coincide with each other; according to the astronomical almanac, the next two and only two such coincidences in the 21st century will happen in 2041 and 2079, 19 and 57 years later, respectively.

The moon over PKUSZ

While the reason why Teachers Day was coined might be straightforward -- to acknowledge the contribution that teachers in China have delivered, the cultural significance behind the Mid-Autumn festival can be a long story to tell. One version of the story goes like this: 

There was once an elixir of immortality awarded to Hou Yi (后羿) who shot down the nine extra suns for saving plants, animals, as well as humans from the 10 suns era. However, one of his followers wanted to be immortal himself and sneaked into his home for this well-hided elixir when Hou Yi was out, threatening his beloved wife Chang’E (嫦娥) to hand over it. Chang’E knew the reason why Hou Yi did not eat the elixir was because of his miss and love, thus she ate the elixir at the moment to protect it not falling to the evildoer, after which she flew to the sky. She eventually chose to land on the moon -- the closest planet to the earth, trying not to be parted too far away from her truelove. Hou Yi was back finding her wife on the moon, he tried all the way out to the moon but nothing could be made. Thereafter Hou Yi, together with villagers who also hoped for the reunion of couples, would make mooncakes to reminisce about the loves and families every 15th day of the 8th lunar month.


The gathering PKUSZ students longed for

While some might argue that a few details of the story can be totally made up since it is, in essence, a mythological story, the cultural and social connotations behind the story is true -- the hope of reunion with our beloved ones.

But this year, it seems to be a bit challenging to fulfill that reunion, at least physically.


Festival celebrated under epidemic control

In addition to the three-times-in-a-century coincidence, what also makes the day worth cherishing and remembering is its timing. Under relevant epidemic prevention and control regulations, students living inside the University Town of Shenzhen were supposed to stay on the campus except for urgent needs for medical treatment, and were recommended to reduce traveling and gathering. Based on all that, helping them overcome homesickness without physically going back home -- since Mid-Autumn recalled the moods of reunite -- has become the major concern for leaders at PKU Shenzhen Graduate School.


Mooncakes with PKU logo

There, mooncakes with the well-known PKU logo can play a role. On September 10, the Graduate Student Union (GSU) of PKUSZ handed out boxes of PKU mooncakes one after another as free gifts for students. Even though the booth temporarily built up near the Mirror Lake was crowded with people all day long, getting free meals is not the prioritized choice for PKU students.

In the afternoon, a mooncake-DIY activity was also held by the GSU on the third floor of Yanyuan No.2 Canteen, with a total of 55 students (including 15 overseas students) participating. Its in fact a tradition to hold mooncake-DIY activity every year. Due to this years special situation, we increased the number of students joining in to 55 to satisfy their needs for a reunion and gathering. In the future, we will continue to organize activities on various other festivals including the Dragon Boat festival, to inherit the great tradition and introduce Chinese cultures to international students, said WU Fangke, Deputy Director of the Standing Committee of the GSU who was in charge of the Dietary Committee that organized the activity.

These efforts paid off, as international students strongly appreciated the activities for offering them a wonderful afternoon. Let’s see what they say!

 “As international students away from our home countries, we can easily feel lonely on that kind of big traditional holiday, shared Jeffery Kim from the United States, who, together with other five international students, participated in the mooncake-making activity, “I was impressed by the PKU authority’s considerable mind through this kind of activity. It seems that we are never going to forget our campus life here, with so much fun and care.

Daria, from Russia expressed her deepest feeling not only toward the mooncake-making, but also the lamp-making “I loved it! The introduction to the festival refreshed my knowledge of Chinese culture,” she loves the lamp decorating process and enjoyed mooncake making since she has never done it before. “Now I know the basics, and I am very grateful for that.”

Chinese and international students making mooncakes together

As a matter of fact, in addition to the mooncake-DIY activity initiated by GSU, other schools including Peking University HSBC Business School (PHBS), School of Environment and Energy (SEE), and School of Transnational Law (STL) have also organized a wide range of themed activities to celebrate Mid-Autumn festival.

For example, from 18:00 to 22:00 on Floor B2 at PHBS Building, students were invited to have a taste of the mooncakes prepared by PHBS Student Union, exchange their own mooncakes with others, take a guess of the missing lines in poems related to the festival, send letters to their family members who might be thousands of miles away, or even get together with their schoolmates to watch the movie Coco (寻梦环游记) that was previously voted as their favorite.


Ticket for the garden party at PHBS

On the other side of the campus, students at STL were also receiving warm-hearted invitations to attend a festival afternoon tea session. They gathered together for entertainment programs including different card games to offset all negative feelings caused by COVID. There, the sense of belonging was once again reinforced at PKUSZ which has always been the harbor of the floating boats and will continue to be the soil of the thriving flowers in the upcoming years.


STL students in games


Handmade mooncakes: best gift for teachers

At the same time when students were celebrating the festival in ways that are unseen in history, teachers here at PKUSZ are also having a pretty unforgettable day. Starting from even a day prior to the festival, they have been constantly bombarded with messages by their students from both private and group chats, most of which were sending wishes upon this special occasion. However, instead of bothering, they would prefer heartwarming as the appropriate adjective to describe these messages. 

Its pretty hard to teach remotely, but I felt assured upon receiving all these best wishes from my students. They are indeed encouraging! Also, I wish all students at PKUSZ a happy, safe and sound Mid-Autumn. Keep finding your goals and rhythm during this difficult period of time! shared YE Weiming, an associate Professor at PHBS who has been leading online classes for the past week under the citys epidemic control regulations.

But on top of words, PKUSZ students were also busy preparing for actions to deliver their gratitude. Mooncakes have always been a wonderful gift, and it is also a great tradition to present teachers with flowers as a sign of thankfulness. This year, it might be viable that we make a combination, suggested DU Wenran, a first-year student at SEE who made mooncakes by herself in one of SEEs specially held group activities.


Handmade PKU mooncakes by Wenran

Here at PKUSZ, Wenran is far from alone. In WeChat moments, students were integrating the showcase of their PKU and handmade mooncakes along with the best wishes to teachers who have offered them valuable experiences and inspirations, into one post. Below in the comment section, teachers were actively participating in leaving messages wishing all things go well with their beloved students, both in academic work and in daily life.

Even though for this years Teachers Day, the physical reunion was not realized, the gratitude by students and the sincere expectation by teachers were delivered. And they warmed everyones heart on this special night.

The well-rounded moon stays high up in the sky as the night gently falls, calling it a day for all family members here at PKUSZ.


Article from Communications and Public Relations Office

Article by YAN Yuchen

Design by HU Yehong

Edited by FONG Tsz Hei and WANG Shunlun

Reviewed by MA Xiye

Photos contributed by PKUers 


Meet the reporter:


YAN Yuchen, currently a first-year MA student at PHBS majoring in Journalism and Communication, had a deep passion for recording events and telling stories in English. He strives to bring more up-to-date Nanyan news and stories to both people at PKUSZ and outsiders.

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