We hosted a great Mid-Autumn Festival celebration at Metsäpirtti Kindergarten in Finland with guests from China and Vietnam, including Rebekka, a Finnish native who has lived and worked in China, making her a wonderful ambassador for cultural exchange. Rebekka has a huge following in Chinese social media where she shares things about Finland that are close to her heart. In the video* above she talks about the cross-cultural Mid Autumn Festival celebration we enjoyed in Finland with kindergartners.
The Meaning of Mid-Autumn Festival in Chinese Culture
The Mid-Autumn Festival holds a special place in Chinese culture. For overseas Chinese, it's a time when feelings of homesickness intensify. They miss their hometowns and relatives more than ever during this festival. It's also a time for reminiscing about cherished memories, particularly those from childhood.
Jingjing's Sweet Childhood Memories
Jingjing shared her own childhood memories of the Mid-Autumn Festival in China, where she looked forward to her grandma's homemade mooncakes. These sweet and soft egg yolk mooncakes were enjoyed by the whole family in her grandmother's garden, beneath a canopy of grapevines. It's a memory that holds a special place in her heart.
Finding Home Away From Home
While overseas Chinese may be physically separated from their families back home, they can find a unique sense of reunion in their new home countries by participating in events hosted by local Chinese associations. These gatherings bring people together to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, create new memories, and share stories from the past. Even as they admire the full moon, enjoy mooncakes, and engage in various activities, they can't help but miss their families who are far away. These traditions add a special charm to the festival and evoke a sense of warmth.
The Legend of HouYi and Chang'e
The story of HouYi and Chang'e, a classic tale in Chinese history, was shared with the children in the Fun Learning kindergarten. The guests wished to share and help understand the important lessons hidden within the story: justice and goodness, courage and sacrifice, separation and longing, and ultimately, reunion and harmony. This story isn't just a beautiful legend; it's a typical Chinese way to teach children about values like sacrifice, courage, justice, yearning, reunion, and harmony.
A Taste of Chinese Culture
Our festival activities included tasting and designing mooncakes, which allowed the children to learn about Chinese culture, art, creativity, imagination, aesthetic appreciation, drawing skills, patience, sharing, and cooperation. Designing their own mooncake patterns and seeing their names written in Chinese characters was a fascinating and delightful experience for the children.
Children Dress in Hanfu Costumes
Additionally, we had an activity where the children dressed in traditional Chinese Hanfu costumes. This not only helps them understand and respect other cultures but enhances their ability for intercultural exchange, developing their sense of beauty, and allowing them to experience and notice the charm of traditional culture.
Friends Like Family
Jingjing and Rebekka continue the Mid Autumn Festival celebrations together with their Chinese friends at a Finnish library, a few days after the official festival date. Being with friends who have become like family is what matters most, sharing quality time with loved ones.
Crafting Colorful Costumes With a Fun Twist
Our Fun Learning Trainer trainees Ms Van Anh, Ms Trang and Ms Anna from Vietnam played an integral and fun role in immersing the children in the spirit of the Mid-Autumn Festival. Together, they crafted colorful and beautiful dragon outfits. The highlight of these outfits was the dragon heads, meticulously crafted from recycled cardboard boxes and all the decorations that were a suitable challenge for the little hands practicing fine motor skills amidst designing the pretty patterns.
On the day of the celebration the children brought the mythical creatures to life, donned in their vibrant dragon costumes. They danced to the rhythmic beat of drums, which they themselves played, in the outdoor playground of the Finnish preschool. It was a sight to behold as these young dragons swirled and twirled in joyful celebration, following the lead of one of our trainees.
Cultural Exchange in the Finnish Forest
This event was a true coming together of two Asian countries, Vietnam and China, celebrating a cherished festival in the Finnish forest environment. The accommodating weather allowed us to partially host the festival outdoors, adding to the enchantment of the occasion. It was a beautiful blend of cultural exchange and natural beauty, creating lasting memories for everyone involved.
Learning Through Cultural Exchange
When we welcome Fun Learning visitors from other parts of the world, we extend a special invitation for them to share a glimpse of their culture with our children. This cultural exchange takes various forms, from festivals like the Mid-Autumn Festival to storytelling, craft tasks, sampling delicacies, and more. Our aim is to pique the children's curiosity and kindle their interest in the diverse cultures of the world. We see a lot of value in the dialogue between the children and their guests.
Fun Learning Across Borders
Our guests, often traveling from afar, are not only awestruck by the vibrant atmosphere of a kindergarten, where children play and learn happily, but they also serve as a wellspring of inspiration for our young learners. The fact that these visitors have journeyed a great distance to visit them leaves a profound impression on our children, sparking their imaginations and broadening their horizons. It's a beautiful Fun Learning exchange that we will continue through our Future Astronaut Conference Calls with the young students of our trainees in Vietnam (more about this project in future articles)!
* In her video above, Rebekka tells her audience that the celebration of the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival in a Finnish kindergarten is all about cultural exchange. She explains that during traditional festivals, the longing for loved ones intensifies. Today, as part of this celebration, she's come to share the story of Chang'e with Finnish children, emphasizing that culture belongs to the world, just like the universal language of music. The video covers various aspects, including the festival's history, the children's interest in the story, festive decorations, mooncakes, teaching them Chinese characters, children designing their own mooncakes, tasting these treats, trying on Han costumes, and learning about Chinese culture. The highlight is the children performing a spirited dragon dance, originally from the New Year celebrations. Rebekka concludes with a commitment to being a bridge between Finnish and Chinese cultures, wishing everyone a Happy Mid-Autumn Festival.
Photo credits: Rebekka and Jingjing, and the Fun Academy photo album
Video credits: Rebekka Mikkola "KaiJie"