When the next super moon brightens the sky September 9, 2014, you might find College of Charleston professor Lei Jin eating a moon cake to celebrate. That’s because the extra-large-looking moon is celebrated in Chinese culture with the Moon Festival.
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Jin has become a go-to expert on all aspects of Chinese culture in Charleston. As president of the Chinese Association of Greater Charleston, she’s organized a Moon Festival event on Saturday, September 6 at the Palmetto Island County Park in Mt. Pleasant.
“The Chinese Moon Festival is equivalent to the American Thanksgiving holiday,” says Jin, director of the college’s Asian Studies Program. “In China, it’s a national holiday.”
Like Thanksgiving, the Moon Festival focuses on food and family, moon cakes and large gatherings of relatives. The annual festival dates back more than 3,000 years to a time when people paid tribute to the moon, believing that would bring a better harvest.
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Originally from southwest China, Jin moved to the U.S. to study literature and fell in love with the Lowcountry.
Today, she teaches Chinese language, literature and cinema at the College and serves as a mentor for the Asian Students Association and Chinese Club. She also has plenty of non-Chinese students who want to learn about the ways of the most populous country in the world.
“We have more and more students majoring in international studies or international business,” says Jin. “They need to prepare themselves in terms of language and culture. China plays an important role in the world’s economy.”