A full moon is set to rise over Irvine starting Monday, Sept. 20, and is expected to be visible for approximately three days. Coinciding with the full moon, the city of Irvine is also set to host the city’s first Mid-Autumn Festival at the Great Park on Tuesday, Sept. 21.
The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Cake Festival, is celebrated by many Asian communities and is valued as one of the most important days of celebration in the annual calendar. The festival, which dates back thousands of years, is traditionally held on the 15th day of the calendar’s eighth month, which represents the time of harvests.
Irvine Vice Mayor Tammy Kim, who helped write the proclamation for this celebration with Irvine Council Member Anthony Kuo, explained that there is some nuance behind the celebratory traditions of the Mid-Autumn Festival between various Asian communities.
Kim, who is Korean, said that in Korea the festival is held in honor of the bountiful harvests, and called Chuseok. For Koreans, Chuseok is a time to visit with family.
“It’s like the equivalent to Thanksgiving. So traditionally, in all the Asian cultures, it is to be grateful for bountiful harvests,” Kim explained. “Both in China and Korea you sort of shut down — businesses are closed — next to the New Year it’s the second biggest holiday in Asian culture.”
Another variation of celebration between cultures is the consumption of mooncakes, which is the Mid-Autumn Festival’s namesake pastry. Mooncakes are a crusted pastry, usually made with red bean or lotus bean past and filled with various nuts or fruit.
Kim explained that the mooncakes are popular in Chinese culture during the Mid-Autumn Festival, whereas Koreans eat rice cakes during Chuseok.
Irvine residents can expect food trucks with traditional fare, including tea and mooncakes.
Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan said she is excited to reflect on the 5o-year anniversary of Irvine, while also celebrating such an important annual cultural milestone for so many Irvine residents.
“I’m so excited to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, a holiday celebrated by many in our diverse Asian community, while also celebrating our city’s 50th anniversary,” said Mayor Farrah N. Khan. “I hope residents will join me and my colleagues in celebrating this cultural holiday and enjoying the evening with our family and friends.”
The festival at the Great Park Balloon Lawn, Tuesday, September 21 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.