From traditional lion dances to eating mooncake, the Autumn Moon Festival brought families together to celebrate a cherished Chinese tradition.
The festival took place from morning until noon in San Mateo Central Park on Sept. 15. Organizations like Kaiser Permanente and Visa sponsored it through the One-mile Kaiser Permanente Generation Walk for Wellness, while Self-Help for the Elderly, a non-profit organization, planned the event.
Each year, Self-Help for the Elderly partners with other organizations to throw a celebration honoring this 3,500-year-old tradition. The custom is observed to worship the moon, welcome the harvest season, and come together with family to feast on mooncake.
Kammy Kwan, a dedicated employee at Self-Help for the Elderly, spent her Sunday in a booth handing out mooncake to the attendees.
Kwan said, “It’s a really important tradition for Chinese people because it means a day of gathering and sharing mooncake together. It’s like American Thanksgiving. Family is supposed to come back home and share something sweet.”
Aside from mooncake, families were entertained by the various performances throughout the afternoon.
Chris Yeh, who attended the festival with his nephews, said, “My nephews really liked the lion dance, and I liked watching the dance too. I thought it was really cool.”
For many guests, the lion dance was the highlight of their day.
“We came so my kids could learn about Chinese culture and their favorite part has been the lion dance,” said Jiao Yun, one of the attendees.
There were other activities available to amuse visitors and their children for the duration of the festival.
Rosie Vasquez, who attended the festival with her son, said, “We did participate in the walk. The highlight last year was a kids raffle where they got a lot of free prizes. This year, I think just having more games for the kids was good.”
Throughout the festival, parents danced around with their children, kids tossed hacky sacks and played with balloon animals, and other relatives spent time catching up with one another.
Kwan said, “We want people to focus more on their families despite distractions at work. So it’s important to have this day set aside where everyone comes together to celebrate.”