China's Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, which fell on Sept. 24 this year, has brought amusement and joy to where it was celebrated by ethnic Chinese communities around the world on Monday and over the weekend.
The annual celebrations contribute to the local cultural diversity and social integration while providing a window for people to know more about the traditional Chinese culture.
PART OF CULTURAL DIVERSITY
On Sunday, South Coast Plaza, a high-end retail shopping mall in the western coast region of the United States, was alive with bobbing red lanterns on strings and Chinese dancers swaying to traditional Chinese music.
The mall's David Grant told Xinhua, "Our Chinese neighbors are an important part of our local community and South Coast Plaza is always pleased to honor their celebrations and traditions."
Americans and Chinese Americans came out in record numbers to attend the event. Sarah Hamil, an American nursing student, said, "I don't live near here, but I like to come to the Moon Festival at South Coast Plaza every year. It's so colorful and different than our usual American holidays. I love the dancers and the amazing gourmet Chinese food."
On Friday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a celebration held at the Chinese Cultural Center of Greater Toronto: "The Mid-autumn Festival, Moon Festival is a celebration of family and community for us all. It's also an opportunity to recognize many contributions (by) Canadian Chinese to our national family."
"The diversity of opinions, experiences and traditions is Canada's great asset," he said. "And more Canadians of all backgrounds are choosing to look China as part of their future, of their prosperity."
On Sunday, Australians flocked for the mooncakes, dragon dancing and other festivities in the Sydney suburb of Cabramatta, a place once overrun with drugs and associated crimes, and the site of the nation's only political assassination, which took place in 1994.
Now in its 20th year, Cabramatta Moon Festival attracted an estimated 90,000 participants. Mayor of Fairfield that encompasses Cabramatta, Frank Carbone, is proud of how far Cabramatta has come.
"I think there's no doubt that the success of the restaurants and the diversity that you see in Cabramatta has created more jobs, has brought investment, has allowed and provided opportunities," he said.
"The stories associated with cultural celebrations like the Moon Festival help to express shared values," said the mayor.
WINDOW OF CHINESE CULTURE
The Moon Festival is celebrated every year on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese lunar calendar, when there is a full moon. Traditionally in China, it's a day of bringing families together, and thanksgiving.
Chinese Consul General Zhang Ping opened the fete held Sunday at the U.S. shopping mall South Coast Plaza.
"Moon Festival embodies the traditional values of Chinese philosophy and culture and carries the desire and pursuit of Chinese people for peace, unity and harmony among different cultures and civilizations," Zhang said, adding that the values have significance to the world today.
For people who are interested in the Chinese culture, the festival provides a good window for them to see more.
"What I like most about Chinese culture is that it's rich, it's deep, it exposes you to a lot of things," Charles Wanika, a student in the Confucius Institute, Kenyatta University, said during the celebration there on Friday.
Recalling her experience in China, another student Regina Ochieng said, "Most of the time you see grandparents together with the parents of the children ... it's something so nice and makes you want to have a family".
Leonard Kisovi, chairman of this Confucius institute in Kenya, expected more by celebrating the Chinese festival. "We are facing East you know for collaboration in development. It is very important for our youth to be able to learn the language especially for the purpose of interacting," he said.
Speaking of the Moon Festival, Australia's mayor Carbone said, "It allows us all to know what a mooncake is and to understand the significance of it, and truly to see that whilst we're different ... we all hold those important values as part of our own identity no matter where you come from."
JOY FROM COLORFUL EVENTS
Food has often been the path to harmony and celebration, and for the Moon Festival, the Chinese mooncake is never absent. In Singapore, the Friday night saw the sharing of a 450 kg mooncake of 1.8 m in diameter among several hundred people, including Muslims.
However during a celebration held in the Italian town of Castel Maggiore, the star food was a co-work by Italian and Chinese chefs -- Chinese dumpling bun stuffed with Bolognese mince. The unique delicacy is inspired by a dinner during a Chinese trip by mayor Belinda Gottardi.
Besides the mooncake and other delicacies, concerts, lantern garden party, lion dancing, kung fu show, or calligraphy workshop are among the Moon Festival celebrations popular among overseas Chinese communities. While providing a platform for the locals to learn about the Chinese culture, what's more important, they are fun.
For example, the festival provided an opportunity for the Chinese opera fans in Britain to gather in London on Saturday, entertaining themselves by taking turns to perform Peking opera episodes.
In New York city, the celebrations reached its climax on Sunday with a boat tour around Manhattan. More than 20 Chinese communities co-hosted the three-hour moon-viewing and sight-seeing cruise. More than 600 people enjoyed the tour while eating mooncakes amid live music.
For the Chinese audience of the concerts held on Sunday and Monday before the Iguazu Falls in Brazil, the symphonies played by Chinese and Brazilian musicians, which echoed with the sounds of the world's broadest fall, were really a surprise, an acoustic feast, and an unforgettable experience.
"Spending the traditional Chinese festival before a natural wonder is so touching," said Li Yafen, Iguazu city's resident.
At the same time, the Moon Festival was just another working day for many overseas Chinese.
"This is my first Mid-Autumn Festival abroad. I miss my family, but it is my duty to stay here and contribute to the SGR project," said Liu Xueyang, a 23-year-old technician based at a construction site of the Nairobi-Naivasha section of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project in Kenya.
Chinese peacekeeper Zhang Xiangfa, who just arrived in South Sudan in September, said he has said sorry in a video message to his wife for his absence during the family reunion festival.
"Participating in peacekeeping has made me more aware of the preciousness of harmony," he said.