Mid-Autumn Festival is a harvest festival, celebrated in most East Asian countries, such as China and Vietnam. The festival takes places on month 8 day 15 of the Chinese calendar.
It is the second most important festival in China after Chinese New Year. To the Chinese, the festival means family reunion and peace.
It is also called “the moon festival” as it is celebrated when the moon is believed to be the biggest and fullest.
Mid-Autumn Festival Facts
- Name in Chinese: 中秋节 Zhongqiujie /jong-chyoh-jyeah/
- Date in 2017: Wednesday, October 4
- History: Over 3,000 years
- Must-eat food: mooncakes
- Celebrations: admiring the full moon, eating mooncakes, Travelling
- Greetings: The simplest is “Happy Mid-Autumn Festival” (中秋快乐).
How the Chinese Celebrate Mid-Autumn
Chinese people celebrate the Mid-Autumn festival with many traditional and meaningful activities, such as eating dinner with family, hanging lanterns, guessing lantern riddles, and worshipping the moon.
Since 2008, Mid-Autumn Festival has been a 3-day public holiday in mainland China. In 2017, the holiday will be October 1–8, combining the National Day holiday and a three weekend days.
New celebrations have developed in recent years. The younger generations prefer traveling, surfing the Internet, and using smart phone apps to celebrate with their families.
What the Chinese Eat for Mid-Autumn Festival
Mooncakes are the must-eat Mid-Autumn food in China. They are a kind of traditional Chinese pastry. Chinese people see in the roundness of mooncakes a symbol of reunion and happiness.
Other foods eaten during the festival are harvest foods, such as crabs, pumpkins, pomeloes, and grapes. People enjoy them at their freshest and most nutritious.
Festival food traditions are also changing. The younger generations have their own ideas about what should be eaten. Most of them don’t like mooncakes, and prefer to eat what they like.
Why Mid-Autumn Festival is Celebrated and How it Started
Chinese emperors worshiped the sun and moon every year, to pray for a good harvest, since the earliest recorded times. They believed the sun and moon are in charge of the universe.
The Mid-Autumn Festival has history of over 3,000 years. It was derived from the custom of moon worship during the Shang Dynasty (c.1600–1046 BC).
Mid-Autumn was first celebrated as a festival during the Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127). Like the emperors, ancient people believed worshipping the moon and eating together round a table would bring them good luck and happiness.