By Mei Yee
The Mid-Autumn Festival is usually celebrated on the 8th month and 15th day on the lunar calendar. According to the lunar calendar, the 8th month is the second month of autumn. With the 15th being halfway through that month as well as the autumn season (since the seasons only have 3 months lasting about 30 days each).
It is also called the Moon Festival or Mooncake festival. Why the moon? Well, the moon is symbolized as being holy, pure, and noble. There have been tens of thousands of poems about the moon that have been recorded.
There are many Mid-Autumn Legends, but the preferred one is about Chang’e and Hou Yi. If you have seen Netflix’s movie “Over the Moon” (a family favorite) then you already are familiar with this story.
However, the part about Jade rabbit, (while believed he accompanies Chang’e) he actually has his own legend. Wu Gang chopping a cherry bay is the third story. There are more but these three are the most widespread stories.
How you can celebrate:
1. Reuniting with family. This is a festival (much like Thanksgiving) where you have a huge family dinner. No matter how far away they try to gather back home to see their family.
2. Moon gazing. This tradition dates back around 500 BC. A bright and full moon symbolizes family reunion.
3. Lanterns. Hanging lanterns has become a tradition as it is said “the high the lanterns are hung, the luckier the family will be.” You can also make your own lanterns with your family!
Some also write good wishes on the lanterns, and then they either let them float up into the sky or make lanterns that float on the river. (They do make them biodegradable now.)
4. Eat mooncakes. Mooncakes are typically round to symbolize the full moon, they also symbolize peoples desires for happiness and family reunions. Mooncakes go back to the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279 BC) and are a great tradition to keep as they are the most representative food for this festival, and they are delicious!
There are more traditions for this holiday. And it is celebrated a bit differently in different countries. This year the Mid-Autumn Festival is Sept 19th-Sept 21st. Where in Korea they will celebrate it the 20th-22nd, and they refer to it as Chuseok, which is even more like Thanksgiving.
Video by China Highlights, Legend of Chang'e and Hou Yi.