Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!
Harvest festivals have a long history in modern human societies. Let’s explore the beautiful tradition of the harvest festival, which has been celebrated in China since the early Tang dynasty (618–907 AC).
The Mid-Autumn festival, also called Moon Festival, takes place on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese lunar calendar (between mid-September to the beginning of October). In 2021, it will be held on September 21st. It is the second most important festival in China, after Chinese New Year.
The name “Moon Festival” comes from Chinese cultural history. In Chinese culture, the moon has always held a special importance. As a result, many myths have been created around it. For example, there’s the story of how Chang’e became the moon goddess. The myth is that Chang’e drank an immortaility elixir that the gods had gifted to her husband. She became so light that she flew to the moon, accompanied by the “Jade Rabbit”. After her departure, her husband prepared a big feast every year on the night with the brightest moon, hoping he would have the chance to see his wife from earth. The moon also plays an especially important role in agriculture. Its movement impacts the changes of the seasons and therefore, agricultural activity. During the Moon Festival, Chinese families offer sacrifices to the moon to express their gratitude.
The celebration customs vary from region to region. Most of them include:
- Family gatherings
- Offering and eating mooncakes
- Sacrificing crops
- Thanking and appreciating the full moon, which is said to be the brightest on this particular night
- Praying for the future
Especially interesting is that every ethnic minority in China has its own unique celebration customs. For example, lanterns, dances, and other moon worship activities.
Mooncakes are a popular part of the celebrations. These small, round, and sweet pastries symbolize the reunion of family. Traditionally, mooncakes are filled with lotus paste and salted egg yolk. But nowadays, they come in various flavors. They are also usually around 800 calories per cake! During the festival, people offer mooncakes to the moon as a sacrifice, gift them to loved ones as a wish for a prosperous life, and eat them as a celebration of a good harvest.
If you happen to find yourself in China around mid-September to early October, be prepared and wish your local friends 中秋快乐! (Zhōngqiū kuàilè!), which translates to Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!