Celebrate the autumn harvest at Lahaina’s Chinese Moon Festival
LAHAINA – Chinese around the world pay tribute to the autumn harvest during traditional moon festivals. On Friday, Sept. 25, and Saturday, Sept. 26, Lahaina Restoration Foundation will present a Chinese Moon Festival at the Wo Hing Museum at 858 Front St. in Lahaina between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Admission is free.
Also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, moon festivals in China originated more than 2,000 years ago. Chinese emperors chose the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar to worship the moon and give offerings to the moon goddess.
Traditional offerings to the moon goddess include yam, lotus root, star fruit, water chestnut, pomelo and taro. It is believed that taro was the first food discovered in the moonlight.
Gradually, the festival evolved into a celebration of thanks for an abundance of fruits, vegetables and grains from harvests.
The moon cake – a round cake with a sweet paste filling or salted duck egg yolk in the center – and colorful lanterns are symbolic traditions at a moon festival.
During Lahaina’s two-day festival, attendees can see the wide variety of produce grown on the island at a Maui County Farm Bureau display and explore cultural activities, such as Chinese knot tying and a talk on kau chim divination.
Keiki can make paper lanterns and learn how to plant Chinese lantern and moon flower seeds. In addition to cultural exhibits on display in the temple and cookhouse, a presentation about the history of moon festivals in China and around the world will be held at 2 and 6 p.m.
Between 5 and 8 p.m., Chinese tea and moon cakes will be served under the sky to the accompaniment of an instrumental erhu performance.
A tea garden will feature samples of organic oolong, jasmine and herbal teas from PONOinfusions.
From 6:30 to 8 p.m., festival attendees can watch traditional Cantonese cooking demonstrations and sample gau chee.
Chinese vegetable and chicken dishes will be available for sale along with moon cakes. A decorative box of four large moon cakes costs $20, and one large moon cake sells for $6. Fillings include taro, lotus and red bean. Moon cakes can be ordered prior to the festival by contacting the Wo Hing Museum.
The Chinese Moon Festival is supported by the Hawaii Tourism Authority and the County of Maui Office of Economic Development.
The Wo Hing Museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. both days. For more information, call the museum at 661-5553, see LahainaRestoration.org /events or visit Facebook.com/ LahainaRestoration.