Mid-Autumn/Moon Festival

The moon joins the Moon Festival.

Located just minutes from Sky Harbor International Airport is a hidden gem – the Chinese Cultural Center. The Center houses three restaurants, the Super L Ranch Market, a bank, fashion and gift shops, an herbal shop and more. The Center also hosts several events throughout the year pertaining to Chinese holidays and traditions. This last weekend they hosted the Mid-Autumn/Moon Festival.

This festival celebrates Chinese history, heritage, family and the harvest (similar to our Thanksgiving). There are many stories  surrounding the myth behind the holiday, but they all seem to include some common elements: an archer, a young woman and an elixir meant to provide everlasting life.

The making of the mooncakes.

There is also a traditional food, called a mooncake, that is present at these celebrations. While the traditional mooncake seems to be very labor-intensive and expensive (and includes a duck egg in the middle), we got to try a more modern version of the treat. The cakes were made using this unusual pan that spun so that the baker could spin it while loading the batter into the compartments. After a few minutes the cake would then be flipped over and a filling would be added before another cake was placed on top. There were three fillings to choose from: red bean paste, vanilla custard and coconut. Not feeling terribly adventurous, we opted for two vanilla and two coconut. The warm cakes were delicious! The cake part was not too sweet, so it complimented the rich filling when you bit into it.

The elegant Peacock Dance.

There were also dance performances and martial arts demonstrations. I particularly enjoyed the Peacock Dance. The dancers costumes were beautiful and their body movements emulated a peacock’s strut. There was also a dancer that performed with a long red ribbon, swirling it about, as if it had a life of its own. There were displays of martial arts skills with swords and the grand finale –

The Dragon Dance!

the Dragon Dance. The athleticism of these young men in the dragon suit amazed me. They would move so fast, it was hard to believe that they were just two guys in a costume and not the mythical being they were portraying.

It was fun to be transported to China for the evening – and then be home in time to catch the 10 o’clock news!