HISTORY OF MID-AUTUMN FESTIVAL
In 1995, a group of immigrant youth from Chinatown met with volunteers from Asian Americans United and expressed deep feelings of homesickness. In particular, they longed for the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival. Here, in Philadelphia, where Mid-Autumn Festival was just another school day and workday, families found little time to mark this important tradition. The over-riding sentiment among the youth was “as bad as it is for us, it is much harder on the elderly in Chinatown.“ From this conversation, the idea was born to reclaim Mid-Autumn Festival in Philadelphia Chinatown. The youth immediately began preparing to “put on a festival for the elderly.” Four weeks later, under the Harvest Moon, these youth welcomed some 400 people to their party in the Holy Redeemer Church and School parking lot. They reenacted the story of Chang E and Hou Yi, they sang and danced, they made lanterns for festival-goers to carry, and they created a Chinatown tradition…
Traditionally, to people gathered to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival, the moon represents peace, love and family reunification. As we gather under the full moon and think of family members near and far, we dream of a world united in peace under the same moon. Each year, this festival gives us a chance to come together as a community to affirm our human right to culture. It offers us a chance to renew our commitment to each other to celebrate and care for our community and its people.
Under Autumn Moon Exhibition (2010)
An exhibit of photographs and block prints of recent Mid- Autumn Festivals by AAU members Joan May Cordova and Kathy Shimizu for a yearlong celebration of AAU’s 25th anniversary.