By: Philip Dong
As a part of the BRIDGES Asian Business Employee Resource Group (BERG) it’s a passion of mine to share the tradition, spiritual and ethical values of the Asian culture across the health system’s facilities and network. The BERGs are made up of employees passionate about embracing relationships with diverse communities served by Northwell Health, and the BRIDGES Business Employee Resource Group is focused on fostering shared understanding of cultural, spiritual and ethical values in the context of healthcare delivery among employees and communities.
On October 4th, I had the privilege to be part of a Diversity and Health Equity Committee meeting and for the first time, introduced one of my most treasured holidays – Mid-Autumn Festival, to Northwell Health’s executive senior leadership. The festival was also celebrated at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research by the Chinese Association at the Feinstein Institute (CAFI) which was organized by Dan Li, President of CAFI and a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Laboratory of Autoimmune and Cancer Research at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research.
Celebrated throughout different Asian regions, this festival has a history of over 3,000 years and commemorates the end of the autumn harvest. It is the second most important festival after the Lunar New Year, where people celebrate through family reunions, akin to Thanksgiving in the United States.
In China, Mid-Autumn Festival was also a time for moon-worship and moon cakes are the must-eat food item during ancient times because the round shape symbolizes reunion and happiness. After worshipping the full moon, family members would savor the cakes together. And while moon-worshiping is no longer a practices ritual, moon cakes are still a traditional pastry to be enjoyed during the festival. The Americans have turkey, but we have delicious cakes with sweet fillings.
The modern day celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival shares much of the same principles as Thanksgiving; that of family gathering and giving thanks. Ever since I was a child, the festival instilled in me a strong sense of family bonds and love. To this day, the clinking of plates and clattering of shuffling mahjong tiles stir up warm, resonant feelings of my Chinese family heritage. To me, the Mid-Autumn festival is more than just a time to eat and be merry – it’s a precious moment when everyone takes a step out of their normal routine to gather as a family and appreciate each other.
To all who celebrate this holiday, I hope you enjoyed this year’s Mid-Autumn Festival!