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Reflection and celebrations

By Wang Zhenghua and Yu Ran ( Shanghai Star ) Updated: 2014-09-05 06:05:10

From taking the time to telephone loved ones living far away, to teaching the newest family members centuries-old traditions, Shanghai’s residents say Mid-Autumn Festival is a time to celebrate being together. Wang Zhenghua and Yu Ran talk to four families and hear their stories.

Reflection and celebrations

"There are more than 30 people in my big family. After dinner we moved some tables to the courtyard and placed mooncakes and round fruits, such as pomelos and apples on them. We would not say anything special to the moon goddess but show respect to her in our hearts." Xu Jibo. Photo provided to Shanghai Star

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Spending time with family and worshipping the moon goddess is what Xu Jibo, a migrant to Shanghai, misses most at the Mid-Autumn Festival.

In August 2000, Xu, then 39, moved to Shanghai's Chongming Island together with his wife and two daughters. They were part of the 1.35 million people, mainly from Hubei province and Chongqing municipality, relocated from the banks of the Yangtze River to make way for the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydroelectric project.

Xu, the eldest son in his rural family, had to leave his parents and seven siblings, and make a living on his own, 2,000 kilometers away from his hometown in Chongqing's Yunyang county.

"We always say that one misses his or her loved ones most on festive occasions and that is especially true for me," Xu says, speaking from his three-bedroom apartment.

In the days leading up to his departure, Xu's parents wept every day. His mother fainted three times - her anxiety about the potential adversity Xu might face without the support of his big family overwhelming her.

Now, Xu and his small family are happily living in Chongming. He works at a cleaning company on the island. His eldest daughter married last year.

But Xu, who has not spent Mid-Autumn Festival with his parents or siblings since 1999, still cherishes his memories of celebrating the festival with his loved ones.

Though the family was not rich, his father insisted the entire family sat down together, savoring the cakes and admiring the moon, he says.

"There are more than 30 people in my big family. After dinner we moved some tables to the courtyard and placed moon cakes and round fruits, such as pomelos and apples on them," he recalls.

"We would not say anything special to the moon goddess but show respect to her in our hearts," he says.

It is customary in his home county for a man to pay a visit to his mother-in-law during the festival.

Now that Xu has settled in Shanghai, he celebrates the occasion with his wife and daughters. He telephones his loved ones in other places, letting them know he is thinking of them on this special occasion.

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