Good ‘Moon’ Rising

Chinese lion dancers, percussionists and a sword dancer perform at the Mid-Autumn Festival at Library Park, Sept. 22. There were numerous art activities for kids as well. Photos by Henk Friezer

In China and various Asian countries, the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is a time-honored tradition that dates back thousands of years. It celebrates gathering among family and friends, as well as moon worship. It is even said the moon appears brighter and rounder during the holiday.

This past Sunday, several hundred South Pasadena residents as well as out-of-towners enjoyed the last day of summer by celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival at Library Park. The annual event was created and sponsored by the South Pasadena Chinese-American Club, a non-profit organization that contributes to local schools, promotes cultural awareness and is dedicated to making the community a better place to live.

Festivities included cultural music and dancing, a martial-arts demonstration, a chalk drawing contest and an opera mask face-changing performance — which proved to be a big hit with the crowd.

“This event is great for all ages and is a nice opportunity to learn about different cultures,” said Louise Yang, who came with her husband and children.

“This was our first time attending. We heard about the event through a friend of ours who lives in South Pasadena. The face-changing mask dancer was really cool and we loved the tea tasting demonstration. It’s nice to see everybody in the community here.”

After the music and dance performances, attendees headed to the Library Community Room, which had a Kids Corner offering arts and crafts, as well as tea tastings. Los Angeles-based tea artist Kioh Park led a tea ceremony for members of City Council, offering samples of oolong, green, black, white and Pu’er tea.

“Tea ceremonies have a long history in China and are a significant cultural event in China,” Park said. “Hundreds of years ago, tea ceremonies were only accessible to wealthy people, but now anyone can participate. I’m really happy to share my experience and knowledge with everyone here. Hopefully they learned something today and can continue to enjoy tea in the future.”

Council Member Diana Mahmud also participated in the tea ceremony.

“I’ve been to China, where I previously participated in a tea ceremony, and today’s event has reinforced some things that I observed about the country’s culture, so it’s particularly of interest to me because of that,” she said. “I think the Mid-Autumn Festival is a wonderful opportunity for our residents to learn more about Chinese culture.”

People lined up along the sidewalk to purchase mooncakes, which are traditional Chinese pastries with various fillings that are given as gifts and meant to be enjoyed with relatives and friends. Attendees also sampled Hawaiian food and Dragon’s beard candy — a traditional Chinese sweet that is similar to cotton candy.

Sally Taylor volunteered to work at the informational booth for the South Pasadena Chinese-American Club for the second year in a row. She chatted with people who came up to inquire about the event and club.

“The Mid-Autumn Festival is a significant part of Chinese culture, and this annual event provides a lot of excitement,” Taylor said.

“Every year we try to find more talented artists and performers to participate. It’s a wonderful way for kids to learn more about Chinese culture, to celebrate diversity in the community and to get to know more people in South Pasadena.”