Community Building



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Mid-Autumn Festival

The Mid-Autumn Festival stage under the Chinatown Arch. Photo by Dr. Joan May T. Cordova

Some Reflections on the 10th Annual Mid-Autumn Festival

In 2005, we celebrated the 10th annual festival. Debbie Wei, one of the founders of the festival, took some time to reflect on the Festival and its meaning.

Download a copy of Some Reflections on the 10th Annual Mid-Autumn Festival by Debbie Wei.

Download a copy of Debbie’s words translated into Chinese.


Mid-Autumn Festival


Every year, thousands of people gather under the full moon to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival in Philadelphia’s Chinatown. People gather to reclaim old traditions and establish new ones, and in so doing, assert their right to exist as a community.

AAU’s Mid-Autumn Festival creates a time when people come together in an expression of community pride and collective responsibility. Youth give a day of service, restaurants donate food, artists offer their talents, businesses and organizations chip in money – hundreds of people work together to make the festival our own.

Kurt Jung Qin Qian

Qin Qian and Kurt Jung
Performers of Traditional and Contemporary Chinese Music (Erhu and Yangqin, Duxianqin and Yangqin) who have graced our stage at the Mid-Autumn Festival.


Goals of the Mid-Autumn Festival (Written in 1996)

  • To promote Chinatown community unity through cultural reclamation
  • To promote pride in Chinese culture and community
  • To engage various sectors of the community in support for a community-wide celebration
  • To promote intergenerational cooperation

Debbie Wei talks to a grade 3 class at FACTS about Mid-Autumn Festival.


In 1995, a group of immigrant youth from Chinatown met with volunteers from Asian Americans United and expressed deep feelings of homesickness. In particular, they longed for the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival. Here, in Philadelphia, where Mid-Autumn Festival was just another school day and workday, families found little time to mark this important tradition. The over-riding sentiment among the youth was “as bad as it is for us, it is much harder on the elderly in Chinatown.“ From this conversation, the idea was born to reclaim Mid-Autumn Festival in Philadelphia Chinatown. The youth immediately began preparing to “put on a festival for the elderly.” Four weeks later, under the Harvest Moon, these youth welcomed some 400 people to their party in the Holy Redeemer Church and School parking lot. They reenacted the story of Chang E and Hou Yi, they sang and danced, they made lanterns for festival-goers to carry, and they created a Chinatown tradition…

Traditionally, to people gathered to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival, the moon represents peace, love and family reunification. As we gather under the full moon and think of family members near and far, we dream of a world united in peace under the same moon. Each year, this festival gives us a chance to come together as a community to affirm our human right to culture. It offers us a chance to renew our commitment to each other to celebrate and care for our community and its people.