Southern California’s Chinese, Vietnamese and other East Asian communities are breaking out the mooncakes, glowing lanterns and Lion dances for the Mid-Autumn Festival, one of the biggest celebrations of the year.
Sometimes called the Moon Festival, this centuries-old tradition celebrated by family and friends falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month – Oct. 4 on our Western calendar – when the moon is supposed to be at its biggest, fullest and brightest.
But commemorations are popping up throughout Southern California as soon as Sept. 30.
“You’ll see a lot of events around town at this time because we’re trying to keep the tradition going,” says Francine Chiu, past president of the Arcadia Chinese Association. “It’s an opportunity for everyone to get to know each other as families enjoy the festival with other families, and it’s a fun way to share our culture with American people, to let them know what this is all about.”
According to Chiu, people come together to eat mooncakes and observe the full moon – a symbol of unity.
It’s a custom associated with the story of the Chinese moon goddess Chang’e.
Legend has it that Chang’e overdosed on an elixir of immortality originally intended for her heroic husband as a reward. Her husband had saved the earth from the scorching heat of ten suns by shooting down all but one of them with his bow and arrows. But he didn’t want to leave his wife, so he asked her to hide it. When an evil man came to the couple’s home looking for the elixir, Chang’e drank it and immediately floated to the moon.
The Elite Performing Arts Company acts out this myth in costume at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden during the Arcadia Moon Festival, Saturday, Sept. 30.
Highlights also include traditional Chinese music and drumming, martial arts, and a performance of the Lion dance. Tickets range from $5 to $14 and are available online or at the door.
For a closer look at the moon, high-powered telescopes will be set up at several events, including the free 79th Annual Mid-Autumn Moon Festival in Chinatown’s Central Plaza, from 5 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Oct. 7. Festivalgoers can catch Main Stage performers like Sean Wang on the Chinese zither, a calligraphy workshop, and mooncake samples from Chinatown’s famous…