I’ve been blogging now for five and a half years and have written plenty about the Mid-Autumn Festival, one of my favorite holidays ever. I’ve even had articles published in Chicago about where to go to celebrate this festival. So I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to post more photos from my first Mid-Autumn Fest a quarter of a century ago.
I had just turned 20 and was an exchange student in Hong Kong, which really goes all out for this holiday. That wasn’t the case in China back then. The university where I was studying had a host family program and I eagerly signed up. My family, the Chans, invited me overnight to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, which like Jewish holidays starts at sundown.
We ate mooncakes in their high-rise apartment in North Point on Hong Kong Island. (I lived more than an hour north of there, up near the China border.) But I didn’t capture any of that on film. In fact, I took way too few photos back then, so I only have a handful from that memorable evening.
The Chans bought me a lantern that I could light with their younger niece and nephew. As an unmarried young woman, I was just one of the kids.
(As a sidenote, which I’ve mentioned before, my mom told me that people in Hong Kong were formal and dressed up, so I arrived at the Chans’ dressed for an office party circa 1990. Notice how most everyone else was wearing jeans. Things had changed since she’d last been there 25 years earlier in 1965).
The next part is vague, but they took me to a parade not too far away. I’m convinced it was the Fire Dragon parade in Tai Hang, but for some reason I only remember these girls from the parade (maybe because these are the only photos I have or maybe because everything in Hong Kong was so new and unique back then).
I also wish I had taken photos from the Tai Po Market, a train stop north of where I lived and site of the market where I first saw the colorful lanterns used during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Or the mooncakes my roommates bought and shared with me before I spent the night with the Chans.
If you’re interesting in reading more about this holiday, I recommend a few books:
Grace Lin’s Thanking the Moon (Knopf, 2010) is a great picture book for young kids.
Christina Matula-Hakli’s lovely picture book, The Shadow in the Moon, is available in Hong Kong and will be published in the US in 2017. I cannot wait!
Shannon Young’s memoir, Year of Fire Dragons (Blacksmith Books, 2014), features the famous Tai Hang fire dragon parade in the opening and closing chapters. I just love this book and am so excited to be on a panel with Shannon this November at the Hong Kong International Literary Festival.
Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!