Celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival in London Chinatown

The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival and the Chinese Lantern Festival, is held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese lunar calendar. This usually occurs around late September or early October when the moon is supposedly at its fullest and roundest.

Moon Festival in London Chinatown - mooncake

Moon Festival in London Chinatown - pomelo

The Mid-Autumn Festival is the most important festival in the Chinese calendar, apart from the Chinese New Year and Winter Solstice (also known as Dongzhi Festival), and is a national holiday in some countries.

Traditionally, during the Mid-Autumn Festival, farmers celebrate the end of the summer harvesting season on this date. Chinese family members and friends gather to admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon, and enjoy moon cakes and pomelos together.

Overthrow of Mongolian rule

According to Chinese folklore, the Moon Festival commemorates an uprising in China against the Mongolian rulers of the Yuan Dynasty (1280–1368) in the 14th century. Group gatherings were banned by the Mongolian rulers and it was impossible to orchestrate a rebellion.

As the Mongolians did not eat moon cakes, the rebel leaders came up with the idea of timing the rebellion to coincide with the Moon Festival. They distributed thousands of moon cakes to the Chinese residents in the city and cleverly inserted inside each moon cake a piece of paper with the message: "Kill the Mongolians on the 15th day of the 8th month."

On the night of the Moon Festival, the rebels successfully attacked and overthrew the Mongolian government. Following the overthrow of the Mongolian government was the establishment of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). As a result of the successful rebellion, the Mid-Autumn Festival was celebrated with moon cakes on a national level.

Mid-Autumn Festival in London

Gerrard Street was the main focal point of the Moon Festival in London and Chinatown was lit up by thousands of orange paper lanterns to mark the occasion. Thousands of local Chinese and visitors from all over the world were there to participate in the anxiously awaited annual event. Many children were wearing the traditional bright coloured Chinese costumes and they look pretty in them.

Moon Festival in London - Organisers

This event was organised by the London Chinatown Chinese Association and was held on Sunday, 11th October, a week later than usual, to coincide with the London Restaurant Festival (8th – 13th October 2009).

Moon Festival in London Chinatown - Opening Ceremony Lion Dance

Moon Festival in London Chinatown - Bathroom Girl

An outdoor stage was setup on Macclesfield Street, facing Gerrard Street. The opening ceremony started at 1.00pm with the ever-popular lion dance.

Moon Festival in London Chinatown - Martial Arts display

Moon Festival in London Chinatown - Noodle Making display

The afternoon’s performances were a mixture of traditional and modern entertainment including a Lion Dance, martial arts, Chinese traditional music, hip-hop dance and Hong Kong Canto-Pop.

Moon Festival in London Hip Hop Dance

Gifts were distributed to those who participated in quizzes or were brave enough to go on stage to give a performance.

Moon Festival in London Outdoor Stage

There were also food tasting, candy and noodle-making classes and even a Chopsticks Challenge.

28 Chinatown restaurants participated in the London Restaurant Festival and offered mouth-watering special menus of Oriental cuisines at special prices.

Elsewhere Chinese community stores were set up to sell Chinese products and those selling paper lanterns and fans seemed to have done very well on the day.

Moon Festival in London Sitting Lion

And so did the lion who danced from one shop to another offering good fortune to the Chinese business community.

The Mid-Autumn Festival in London was clearly enjoyed by everyone.There was so much fun and laughter and even the drizzle near the end did not dampen the spirits of those who participated in this year's event.

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