Dancers celebrating Mooncake Festival

DancersA $5000 grant from the Rotorua Trust has helped bring alive the traditional Chinese Mooncake Festival in Rotorua.

The festival is traditionally held annually, based on the lunar calendar around the time of the full moon in the northern hemisphere autumn. This being the southern hemisphere, the Rotorua festival was held on 25 September at the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre.

The event attracted 135 people, and they were welcomed by a traditional Chinese instrument group from Auckland.

Event organiser Waitsu Wu says the tradition grew out of celebrating the rice harvest at full moon time, at which time villagers enjoyed time together in the moonlight sharing sticky rice cake.

The entertainment provided in Rotorua reflected that joyful tradition. The event started with a Chinese folk dance “Moonlight in the Lily Pond”, followed by a Face Masks Changing show, a performance with traditional instruments and the Peacock Dance. A Chinese-style aerobic dance concluded this part of the programme.

Guests were then able to enjoy Chinese finger food and moon cakes.

A moon cake is a single, round cake sliced into portions for each villager or visitor. However, individual round cakes are more common today.

Waitsu says the Trust funding was most helpful, because the organisers would have been unable to pay entertainers from Auckland without it. The 20 traditional instruments the group played would not normally be heard outside Auckland or Wellington. Numerous requests for the event to be repeated next year were included in the 100 feedback forms returned.

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