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The Moon Festival marks an important occasion in the Lan Yuan, Dunedin Chinese Garden Calendar

Celebrating the Moon Festival at Lan Yuan

Also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, the Moon Festival is one of the three main festivals in the Chinese calendar, the others being Chinese New Year and the Dragon Boat Festival.

This year we had planned to celebrate the Moon Festival in person here at Lan Yuan on Sunday 26th September – traditionally a time in China when families and friends gather to eat moon cakes and enjoy the spectacular beauty of the moon at it brightest.

In a typical year, this traditional Chinese festival is celebrated at Lan Yuan with cultural performances in the Courtyard, games, storytelling and moon cakes. Unfortunately, the current COVID-19 situation has meant we are unable to do this, so the community has once again shown innovation by recording their performances for visitors to enjoy from home.

This 2021 online edition of the Moon Festival consists of filmed performances from the Dunedin Tai Chi Club, Dunedin Senior Citizens Chinese Association and the Dunedin Chinese Cultural Arts Association, filmed ‘how-to’ arts and crafts and storytelling.

We are also pleased to welcome video contributions from Mr Wang Zijian, Chinese Consul General based in Christchurch and His Worship the Mayor of Dunedin, Aaron Hawkins.

A little about the history of the Moon Festival 

As the Festival occurs on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month in the Chinese calendar – mid-autumn in China, it is also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival.

The air is brisk, and the moon is especially bright on this autumn night. In China, the full moon symbolises family reunion – like the Moon Festival itself, this day is also called the Reunion Festival and Harvest Festival.

These names relate to the different origin stories and help to explain why people admire and worship the moon on this day and eat delicious moon cakes.

In ancient China, people worshipped the moon, looked for one’s spouse by singing and dancing under the full moon, and made offerings to the gods for an abundant harvest.

The custom of worshipping the moon has a long history, and many Chinese poets wrote about the full moon in mid-autumn. Among these was Su Shi (蘇軾 1037 –1101).

Shi wrote Mid-Autumn Moon which reflected on the preciousness of time with family.

As evening clouds withdraw a clear cool air floods in

the jade wheel passes silently across the Silver River

this life this night has rarely been kind

where will we see this moon next year

Su Shi

Lan Yuan, a garden of national significance is still open for you to visit and enjoy!

The time of the Moon Festival and spring are here, the blooms are coming out it’s a beautiful place you can enjoy socially distanced and at your own pace.

In celebration of the Moon Festival, pre-packaged moon cakes are also available for purchase from the Lan Yuan Tea Shop.

We hope you to welcome you to Lan Yuan soon!