During this time of many health challenges in our life, family, community and the world, it is worthwhile to explore ways to live healthier and happier at home. For example, while we cannot get together for safety reasons, we can still honor seasonal changes and traditions. As Fall approaches, a time of celebration begins in many northern-hemisphere cultures. In Hawaii, one such tradition is the Mid-Autumn Celebration, also known as the Chinese Moon Festival. Honoring the joy of harvest, family and friends reunite during this time of bounty, offering thanks for an abundance of fruits, vegetables and grains.
“Regretfully, the Chinese Moon Festival usually celebrated at Lahaina’s Wo Hing Temple on Front Street is cancelled this year due to the pandemic,” said Dr. Busaba Yip, Wo Hing Museum Docent and Cultural Director. “However, we can still honor the island’s harvest of locally grown products as well as esteemed traditions from China. One of the most important Chinese festivals, the observance is an ancient tradition commemorating the completeness and abundance of life. It occurs during the harvest moon on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. The date in the Western calendar changes annually. This year, it falls on Thursday, October 1, 2020.
“It is sad that we cannot have a community gathering this year,” Yip reflected. “Nevertheless, knowing the moon festival’s importance will enhance a celebration of the season at home. For example, people can observe the season with an outdoor service, creation walk or pilgrimage, or prepare meals using the fruits of the harvest season. Many symbolic foods are used to give thanks for the bountiful harvest and to promote fertile fields and bigger crops. One of these foods, the moon cake, is the most distinctive. It is a sweet, round cake in the shape of the moon filled with lotus seeds, taro and black bean paste. Some have salted duck egg yolks at the center of each cake representing the moon. I wish you all a healthy, happy Moon Festival—Zhong Qiu Jie Kuai Le!”
Many thanks to Maui visitors and volunteers for supporting the tradition of the Chinese Moon Festival for our families and future generations.
Dr. Busaba Yip, Wo Hing Museum Docent and Cultural Director