By Shirley Ng, AsAmNews Staff Writer
San Francisco celebrated the 32nd annual Mid-Autumn Moon Festival in Chinatown after a two-year absence.
The community experienced so much anti-Asian violence and crime since COVID-19 that the festival was a welcomed and delightful boost for the community this weekend.
San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said at the festival, “Everyone on this stage is to make sure that everyone gets to enjoy their time and not have to worry about something happening.”
The festival brought back joy, tourism and an economic boost this weekend. Six blocks of Grant Avenue were closed and the street was filled with crowds that came to celebrate the Chinese holiday that gives thanks for a good harvest, similar to Thanksgiving holiday. The festival would not be without vendors selling mooncakes, which is traditionally eaten during the moon festival. The festival traditionally falls on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar.
There is a Chinese legend that the Earth had 10 suns, during which the Earth experienced extreme drought and heat. The Emperor of Heaven, Hou Yi, who was a great archer, shot down nine suns to save their crops and the Earth from heat. As a reward, he was given an elixir of immortality that he planned to share with his wife. Unfortunately, a thief attempted to steal the elixir while the emperor’s wife was at home. To stop the attempt she drank all of the elixir. This caused Hou Yi’s wife to float to the sky and she made the moon her home. The mooncakes were a food offering to her by husband to honor her, which now symbolizes the moon festival.
Traditionally, mooncakes are filled with a sweet filling of lotus seed or red bean paste and also includes a salted egg yolk that represents the moon. The moon cake is to be shared and eaten with friends and family. Overtime, there are now many variations of mooncake fillings that may or may not include a salted egg yolk. Through-out most of the festival, Grant Avenue had many vendors that sold food and souvenirs. There were community organizations that shared important information on health and social services. Through out the day, martial arts performances, lion dancing and cultural music were on the main stage.
This year, the festival included the inaugural “We Are Bruce Lee” costume contest, sponsored by the Chinese Historical Society of America. It called on all Bruce Lee fans to “embrace their inner Bruce Lee,” spirit to participate. Several contestants entered including one senior woman. They gave their best performance as “Bruce Lee.” The contestant that received the loudest applause from the audience was the winner. The winner received a goody bag of items that included tickets to the “We Are Bruce Lee” exhibit.
The festival drew thousands of people out to celebrate. The festival organizers encouraged people to support the vendors and the businesses in Chinatown during as a spike in robberies and vandalism has targeted the community.
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