By Galen Patterson
The City of Arcadia partnered with the Arcadia Chinese Association to celebrate the Chinese Lunar Festival on Sept. 29.
The actual holiday is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month in China. The Chinese New Year being in February, the eigth lunar month in China is September.
The Lunar Festival is an ancient tradition in China that dates back to the Han dynasty (206 B.C. – 220 A.D.). The legend behind the holiday is believed to have different interpretations, three of which are listed on China’s government website.
Arcadia’s Lunar Festival showcased many talented performers during the one-night event.
The Young Artists Orchestra, a group of volunteer student musicians based in Arcadia and Torrance, played for the crowd in front of the stage. The Young Artists Orchestra, conducted by Daniel Suk, focuses on teaching students to use their talents to serve the community, by raising money for the homeless and other charitable organizations. “We don’t just play for ourselves, we play for the community,” said Suk, “It’s a different mission and mentality.”
After the orchestra, the crowd was shown a video reported to be a clip from Neil Armstrong’s first walk on the moon in 1969. The video was Armstrong explaining part of the Lunar Festival mythology to NASA.
The video was interrupted by performer Jay Polvani, a Mandarin-speaking, half-Taiwanese, half-Italian American.
The celebration explained both stories through the Mandarin-speaking host and his English-speaking co-host, who focused on elaborating points made in Mandarin.
The first story talked about a brave archer who saved Earth by shooting nine out of 10 suns down from the sky, who was subsequently awarded with an elixir of immortality, which his wife drank and she ascended to the moon, and during full moons, the archer can be closest to his wife and share her favorite foods with her, which happen to be cake and fruit.
The other story deals with the self-sacrifice of a rabbit who makes medicine on the moon, while a man is condemned to chop down the same tree for eternity, much the way Sisyphus pushes a boulder uphill in Greek mythology.
During the explanation of this legend, two artists took the stage and live-painted a rabbit while dancing, which was then complimented by a real rabbit, followed by a group of talented young dancers dressed as rabbits.
In an article posted on Arcadiasbest.com, Mayor Sho Tay said “this year is about bringing the community together.”
In America, the moon is more commonly associated with danger, and monstrous transformation during its full stage, whereas in China, the moon is more associated with romance and brightness.
In the way the brave archer meets his lunar-bound wife and eats cake and fruit with her, Chinese people gather with their families during the Lunar Festival and eat moon cake. While in Arcadia, the city gathered under the night sky and enjoyed each other in honor of Earth’s most prevalent rock formation.