Feature: Biggest shopping mall in U.S. western coast celebrates Chinese Moon Festival
Los Angeles, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- South Coast Plaza, a high-end retail shopping mall in the U.S. western coast region, was alive with bobbing red lanterns on strings and lovely Chinese dancers swaying to traditional Chinese music Sunday, to celebrate the Chinese traditional Moon Festival.
South Coast Plaza's David Grant told Xinhua, "Our Chinese neighbors are an important part of our local community and South Coast Plaza is always pleased to honor their celebrations and traditions."
Americans and Chinese Americans came out in record numbers to attend the special event, co-sponsored by the Chinese Consulate to Los Angeles.
Chinese Consul General Zhang Ping, who opened the fete, warmly welcomed the visitors.
"Moon Festival embodies the traditional values of Chinese philosophy and culture and carries the desire and pursuit of Chinese people for peace, unity and harmony among different cultures and civilizations," Zhang said, adding that the values had significance to the world today.
"We all live on one planet or in one global village. When the mid-autumn moon sheds light on every continent, perhaps it is the time for us to think about how we should make our endeavor to make this world a better place free from conflict, poverty and hostility."
The cheerful crowd included well-dressed older couples, families with wide-eyed, giggling kids in tow, romantic young couples strolling arm in arm, and trendy teenagers hanging out in packs.
They all came out to get their traditional Chinese mooncakes and sample many other Chinese delicacies the Plaza was serving up.
Sarah Hamil, an American nursing student whose parents live in the area, told Xinhua, "I don't live near here, but I like to come to the Moon Festival at South Coast Plaza every year. It's so colorful and different than our usual American holidays. I love the dancers and the amazing gourmet Chinese food."
Moon Festival, also known as Mid-Autumn Festival, is celebrated every year on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese lunar calendar, when there is a full moon.
Along with the Chinese New Year and the Dragon Boat Festival, it is one of the three most widely celebrated holidays in China. Originated from ancient times as a form of moon worship, it marks the end of the harvest season and the movement of the seasons from old to new.
Much like Thanksgiving in the United States, the Mid-Autumn Festival celebrates the spirit of gratitude, thanksgiving and family reunions. Family members who have been long separated or living far from each other often congregate to share the holiday spirit at this time.
ChineseAmericanFamily.com founder, Wes Radez, described the Mid-Autumn Festival as one that brings families together and "it's all about giving thanks, for nature's abundance and for joyful reunions with loved ones," he wrote.
Legend has it that the Moon Festival originated with the star-crossed lovers, the beautiful Chang'e and the heroic archer, Hou Yi. When nine suns appeared in the sky, threatening to destroy the world, Hou Yi shot down eight of them, leaving only the one needed. For this feat, he was given the Elixir of Immortality.
To prevent it being stolen by a disloyal apprentice, his wife, Chang'e, drank the Elixir and flew to the moon, while Hou Yi became the God of the Sun. The separated couple were only able to reunite once a month when their legendary love made the moon full and bright.
Some couples still celebrate the Moon Festival in that same romantic spirit this holiday, going out on dates or giving special gifts to their loved ones. Tasty mooncakes in fancy, gold wrapped packages are huge favorites, much like giving a box of chocolates on Valentine's Day.
Today, the modern Mid-Autumn Festival is more widely celebrated all around the world as an occasion to give thanks for the gifts of family, good fortune and community togetherness.
During the Festival, families pray for significant things such as a long life, a loving spouse, a new baby, and good fortune.
In addition to delicious treats, the South Coast Plaza had many Chinese handicrafts for sale, many imported directly from China.
"I'm not leaving without one of those beautiful silk scarves!" said Hamil.