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Celebrate the autumn harvest at the Chinese Moon Festival in Lahaina

By Staff | Sep 15, 2016

Tiani Asuncion-Baker made a lantern at the 2015 festival.

LAHAINA – Lahaina Restoration Foundation’s annual harvest celebration, the Chinese Moon Festival, is set for Friday, Sept. 16, and Saturday, Sept. 17, at the Wo Hing Museum at 858 Front St. in Lahaina between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Admission is free.

Lahaina’s two-day moon festival celebrates the island’s harvest of locally grown produce as well as time-honored traditions from China.

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.

Eventually, 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 this year’s festival on Sept. 16 and 17, there will be visual displays of Chinese lanterns and traditional harvest offerings to the moon goddess. Attendees can see Wo Hing Cultural Director Dr. Busaba Yip’s presentation about the history of moon festivals in China and around the world at 2 p.m. and again at 6 p.m.

Kids will enjoy making paper lanterns and learning how to plant seeds. People of all ages can explore cultural activities such as Chinese calligraphy with Rev. Takayuki, knot tying with Brenda Wong and a talk on Hawaii feng shui by Diane Alba-Means. The activities are available between 4 and 7 p.m.

In the evening, Chinese tea and moon cakes will be served in the garden to the accompaniment of an instrumental erhu performance by Hong Zhou from 5 to 7 p.m.

Festival-goers can watch traditional Chinese cooking demonstrations by Chef Bobby Santos on Friday and Chef Dean Louie on Saturday.

Between 2 and 7 p.m., Toi Suchitra Srijantara will perform traditional music on the yang gin symbalom and gu zheng harp.

Chinese moon cakes will be available for sale. 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 visiting the Baldwin Home Museum on Front Street or calling the LRF office at (808) 661-3262. Cash and major credit cards are accepted.

The Chinese Moon Festival is supported by the Hawaii Tourism Authority, County of Maui Office of Economic Development and Wo Hing Society.

The Wo Hing Museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. both days with free admission.

For more information and updates, see LahainaRestoration.org/events or visit Facebook.com/LahainaRestoration.