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Hundreds of people gathered at Chung Wah Lane in Stockton over the weekend to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival for the second year with moon cakes and cultural performances.
Val Lee Acoba, the general organizer for the second Mid-Autumn Festival and retired high school teacher, said Saturday’s festival, in the Chinese culture, is a celebration of harvest and is also called the Moon Festival.
“This festival is a good way for the Asian community to connect and celebrate together,” Acoba said. “Last year, it was mostly the Chinese. But this year, we have added the element of Vietnamese culture and food, because the Vietnamese celebrate the festival too and so do the Japanese.”
Mid-Autumn Festival is a traditional festival celebrated across Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese cultures, among other cultures in East and Southeast Asia. The festival falls in September or early October on the Gregorian calendar and on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar — which is marked as “middle of the autumn,” and hence, it gets the name ‘Mid-Autumn Festival.’
“There is a fable that there are many versions of, and this is the version that I know is the best one,” Acoba said, as she narrated the story behind the Moon Festival.
The Moon Festival originates from the story of an archer named Hou Yi, an archer who shoots down nine of the ten suns after they scorched the earth’s plants and crops. After being rewarded with the elixir of immortality, Hou Yi wants to drink it with his wife Chang E on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, to spend eternity together. When a wicked man tries to steal the elixir in Hou Yi’s absence, Chang E drinks the elixir all by herself to save it from the robber. As a result, Chang E begins to float and is lifted to Heaven, and she chooses to reside on the moon, as it is closest to earth and to her husband, becoming the Moon Goddess.
Harika Maddala is a photojournalist based in Stockton covering San Joaquin County for Bay City News Foundation and its nonprofit news site Local News Matters. They are a Report for America corps member and a CatchLight Local Fellow.