This weekend the whole area around where I live in the San Francisco Chinatown was filled with stands for the Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節), also known as the Moon Festival. Truth be told, it was an odd experience. Having lived for several years in Taiwan and a couple of years in Beijing, I’ve been through quite a few of these, but never one quite like this.

SF Chinatown Mid-Autumn Festival


In Taiwan, 中秋節 is possibly my favorite holiday. Basically everyone hangs outside fires up a barbecue and drinks beer with their friends, much like the 4th of July in the US. It’s a bit more of a go inside and eat kind of thing in Beijing, but still very much food-centered.

SF Chinatown Mid-Autumn Festival

Here, it looked like a nightmarket from afar. But after walking closer it, I saw that there wasn’t really anyone selling snacks. No “red bean cookies“, no fried octopus on a stick, no stinky tofu and no milk tea! Instead it was all the local merchants who make a living off of selling to tourists just doing their thing. Maybe I’m spoiled from living in eastern Asia for so long, but this felt barely more convincing than halloween was in Taiwan.

Chinatown Mid-Autumn Festival- Brought to you by AT&T