The Heritage House in Riverside hosted its annual celebration of the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, a centuries-old tradition, Sept. 16.
Lynn Voorheis, curator of historic structures and collections, said the Asian culture was highly regarded in the Riverside area during the Victorian era. During this time, Chinese house servants would bring back artifacts from China.
The holiday, which originated in China more than 3,000 years ago, is used as a celebration of life and happiness. In Chinese culture the full moon is affiliated with family reunions and represents wholeness.
There was a wide range of experiences at the Heritage House event, such as Chinese food, storytelling, traditional moon cakes and a lion dance. During the lion dance, acrobats went through a series of movements while dressed as a dragon and interacted with the attendees by wandering through the crowds.
Dr. Dawn Gilmore, assistant professor of music, provided her students with the extra credit opportunity of attending the event. Gilmore said she thought the event would be a good intercultural experience for students.
Mitchell Collard, sophomore instrumental performance major, said this was his first time to participate in the festival, and he had not heard about the Heritage House until Gilmore mentioned the event.
“I like being able to see all the different aspects of the culture from the food to activities to telling the traditional stories,” Collard said.
Barbara Wong, a freelance storyteller for more than 23 years, has taken part in the Heritage House moon festival since 2004. Wong said she tailors her stories to her audience, lengthening them and adding intricacies for older audience members.
Participants also had the chance to sharpen their skills with chopstick training. A large bowl of rubber bands was placed next to several pairs of chopsticks and was available for attendees to try out their chopstick skills. Moon cakes, a Chinese pastry that is a traditional part of the moon festival, were also sold at the event.
“Riverside has a very interesting history and (my husband and I have) only been here for four years,” Gilmore said. “So it’s really fun to get to learn more about where we live and how rich the community is.”
The event was open to the public and free of charge.