Friday, August 20, 2021

New Sampan Article: The First August Moon Festival in Chinatown

"The most interesting feature of Chinese life to me was that on board their boats, or sampans, as they are called....Upon these boats live whole families of three and even four generations."
--The Fall River Daily Herald, November 20, 1888

For over a year, I've been contributing to Sampan, the only bilingual Chinese-English newspaper in New England. It is published in print as well as online, available in both Chinese and English. I've previously written twenty-six articles for Sampan, and you can find links here.

My newest article, The First August Moon Festival in Chinatown, is now available in the new issue of Sampan. In 1885, Boston’s Chinatown feted their first public celebration of Chinese New Year, their most important holiday. Curiously though, their second most important holiday, the August Moon Festival, wasn’t celebrated publicly in Chinatown until 1970. 

The history of the August Moon Festival, also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, the Moon Festival, and the Mooncake Festival, extends back a few thousand years. It has multiple inspirations, from a celebration of the harvest to an honoring of the moon. There are also multiple traditions associated with their holiday, including the lion dance, the lighting of lanterns, and mooncakes. So, what was the first public celebration of this festival in Chinatown like? You'll find out in my new article.

What is a "sampan?" The newspaper's site states, "A sampan is a popular river boat in traditional China. This small but useful vessel, by transporting cargo from large boats to the village ports, creates a channel of communication among villages." And like that type of boat, Sampan delivers news and information all across New England, and "acts a bridge between Asian American community organizations and individuals in the Greater Boston area."

Sampan, which was founded in 1972, is published by the nonprofit Asian American Civic Association, "The newspaper covers topics that are usually overlooked by the mainstream press, such as key immigration legislation, civil rights, housing, education, day-care services and union activities. These issues are crucial to the well-being of Asian immigrants, refugees, low-income families as well as individuals who are not proficient in the English language."

There is plenty of interest in Sampan which will appeal to all types of readers, from restaurant reviews to historical articles, from vital news stories to travel items. In these current days when racism and prejudice against Asians and their restaurants is high, it's more important than ever that accurate information about the Asian community is disseminated and promoted. We need to combat the irrational prejudices that some possess, and support our Asian communities just as we would support any other element of our overall community. We are all important aspects of a whole, and we need to stand together.

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