Happy Mid Autumn Festival, Confucius's Birthday, and Teachers' Day

September 24, 2015

In many cultures there are lucky numbers. By now most of us know that in Chinese culture,eight (bā 八) is lucky (think: “888 middle school campus”). In English, the number three frequently has a positive association. Good things come in threes. Three’s the charm. The triple crown. Trifecta. “ABC, easy as 1-2-3.” And so on. So let’s, for a moment, embrace the American in Chinese American and run with the number three.

We are coming up on the celebration of not one, not two, but three celebrations at CAIS. This Saturday, September 27 is the Chinese Mid Autumn Festival (zhōng qiū jié 中秋节), sometimes called the Moon Festival in the west. Monday, September 28 marks the 2566th birthday of the Chinese humanist philosopher Confucius. Because of Confucius’s reputation as a great teacher and advocate of education as a necessary ingredient in world peace, September 28 is also celebrated as Teachers’ Day in Taiwan—a tradition that we have followed for many years at CAIS. We will celebrate it this year on Monday, September 28 as well.

This trifecta of important observances has not been lost on the CAIS parents who make up our Family School Alliance (FSA) board. Accordingly, they are living their community-building mission by holding the annual Back-to-School Picnic to coincide with the Mid Autumn Festival, Confucius’s Birthday, and Teachers Day. I urge you to join your friends from the CAIS community in this great school tradition. Click here for details.

Confucius was a teacher. He lived in a time characterized by constant warfare, and he preached a philosophy of world peace. Confucius taught that the root of change in the world was not laws or policies or institutions, but rather the individual. And, he believed, the path to change in the individual was education. Some of you may have noticed a motto that is frequently printed beneath the CAIS logo: “Life changing. World changing.” These four words derive directly from Confucius.

The Mid Autumn Festival is a harvest festival, akin to Thanksgiving in the US. In China the feast takes place on the 15th day of the lunar month when the moon is full. As with other harvest festivals, families in China celebrate by gathering for a feast. When family members cannot return home for the feast, it is common to say that no matter how far away they are, they can look at the same moon and remember one another. The most well-known and eloquent expression of this sentiment is in a poem written by the Song Dynasty scholar Su Shi 苏轼 (1037-1101 CE). Su wrote the poem to express how much he missed his brother on the evening of the Mid Autumn Festival. The last lines of the poem read:

但愿人长久

千里共婵娟

Dàn yuàn rén cháng jiŭ

Qiān lĭ gong chán juān

I hope we are blessed with longevity

And although thousands of miles apart, we may still share the moon’s beauty

If you have the time and inclination, you can read my past musings about Confucius, Teachers’ Day and the Mid Autumn Festival by clicking on the following links:

Confucius’s Birthday/Teachers’ Day 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010
Mid Autumn Festival 2014, 2013, 2012

I’d like to take advantage of this occasion to thank our teachers for their life changing, world changing work, and to welcome you to the community picnic on Saturday—I hope to see you there!

Best,
Jeff