On Monday 9/5, the beginning of my first full week of classes, I was more motivated than ever. I was going to find all my classrooms easily, attend all my lectures on time, and throw myself into my schoolwork. However, at the end of my very first class, the professor gave an unexpected farewell: “See you in two weeks!” I soon discovered that the entire weekend, including the next Monday, was a holiday: the Mid-Autumn Festival.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is an annual tradition of Hong Kong’s. Historically, it’s to honor the end of the crop-harvesting season. It is always held during the full moon, and much of the celebrations are centered around the moon; for example, mooncakes are a popular food to eat during this time. Much of the décor takes the form of traditional lanterns, festive lights, and fun floats. On Sunday afternoon, we traveled to Lee Tung Avenue, only a ten minute walk from my apartment in Wan Chai. The sight was amazing: hundreds of red lanterns covered the top of the street, almost forming a canopy that blocked out the sky. We shopped at the local kiosks, where I blew all my money on souvenirs for friends and family, and ate pork bowls for dinner. We even bought ice cream moon cakes for dessert, which were doughy on the outside and smooth on the inside, and were delicious (to quote a popular Asian compliment, it wasn’t too sweet)! As dusk fell, the lanterns were turned on, illuminating the entire avenue.
The following night, on our day off, we journeyed to Wong Tai Sin Temple. There were so many colorful lights that I kept seeing stars whenever I blinked! The entire temple was covered with various beautiful lanterns and the roofs were lit up a bright green. I was amazed at how intricately this historical location was decorated for the holiday, and that it was so easy to travel to – even looking up, I could see the surrounding high rise buildings of the city!
After leaving the temple, we caught the end of a carnival in Causeway Bay. There were even more brightly-lit floats than at the temple! My favorite float was of a giant cat, with its paw raised in greeting (a traditional maneki-neko, I believe, meant to bring good luck), surrounded by equally giant koi fish. Soon after filling my camera roll with pictures, we called it a night.
I had heard that fall was the best season to travel to Hong Kong, but I am so grateful that I was able to be here for such a culturally important holiday. The displays were truly incredible and like nothing I had ever seen before. I’m very excited to experience even more of Hong Kong culture and tradition in the next few months.
A Message from the Office of Global Engagement:
The safety and security of Drexel students is a priority for the University. As part of the efforts to support Drexel students that are studying abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Global Engagement has conducted a rigorous review of programming and provided additional support to participating students with customized pre-departure orientations and regular check-ins during the required self-isolation period and the term.