Are you ready for a unique cultural experience that involves mooncakes, lanterns, and a mesmerizing full moon? The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, gives you an absolute experience of the uniqueness of China. If you’re a foreigner, tourist, or international student living in China, remember that this annual festival is one of the most popular and significant traditional events of the year.
In this blog, we introduce you to the history, customs, and traditions of the Mid-Autumn Festival, and how you can celebrate it like a local.
Origins of the Mid-Autumn Festival
The Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, which usually falls in September or October in the Gregorian calendar. It’s a time when families reunite, and friends gather to admire the spectacular full moon, eat delicious mooncakes, and light colorful lanterns.
Historically, the festival dates back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and is associated with the legend of Chang’e, the Moon Goddess. According to Chinese mythology, Chang’e swallowed an immortality pill and flew to the moon, where she lived ever since. On the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival, people offer prayers to Chang’e and make wishes for good fortune and happiness.
Customs and Traditions
The Mid-Autumn Festival is steep in tradition, with customs varying across different regions and countries. One of the most significant customs is the offering of mooncakes. The mooncake is a round pastry filled with a sweet or savory filling. Family and friends usually share mooncakes during this season. Gift-giving is also a tradition at this time.
Another popular tradition is the lighting of lanterns. This act symbolizes the illumination of knowledge and wisdom. Lanterns come in various shapes, sizes, and colors. Often, people hung them outside their homes and public places. Children also carry lanterns and participate in parades, adding to the festive atmosphere.
How Can You Celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival?
The Mid-Autumn Festival is a feast for the senses, and there are many ways to celebrate it. One of the most popular ones is to eat mooncakes, a sweet pastry. They usually fill the mooncakes with lotus seed paste, red bean paste, or salted egg yolk. Mooncakes are round, which symbolizes completeness and unity. According to tradition, people give mooncakes as gifts to family, friends, and business associates.
Another way to celebrate the festival is to simply admire the full moon. The moon is believed to be the brightest and roundest on this day. People often gather in parks, riversides, or rooftops to watch the moon and light lanterns.
Modern Day Celebration
The Mid-Autumn Festival is also an occasion for cultural performances, such as dragon and lion dances, folk music, and storytelling. In modern times, people also enjoy various forms of entertainment, such as watching TV dramas, listening to music, or going out for dinner or karaoke. However, traditional activities still hold a powerful appeal for many people. Especially those who want to connect with their roots and keep the customs alive.
Enjoy the Mid-Autumn Festival as a Local
If you want to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival like a local, there are many ways to immerse yourself in the culture. You can join a lantern-making workshop. Here, you can learn how to make your own colourful lantern and decorate it with Chinese characters or patterns. You can also try your hand at making mooncakes. You can either attend a cooking class or buy the ingredients and follow a recipe online. Alternatively, you can simply stroll around the city, enjoying the festive decorations, and talk to the locals to learn more about their customs and beliefs.
Dragon Boat Festival: History, Traditions and Customs
Best Ways Foreign Students Can Celebrate Chinese New Year
Who Can Study in China?
Study in China for Free
Study Abroad: A Comprehensive Guide
Mid-Autumn Festival Celebrations in Other Countries
In many places, there are also performances and cultural activities, such as dragon and lion dances, folk music, and traditional games.
For instance, in Vietnam, the Mid-Autumn Festival is known as “Tet Trung Thu.” Children often wear masks and perform traditional dances to mark the celebration.
In Singapore, people mark the celebration with the annual lantern procession. This is where participants carry colorful lanterns through the streets.
Significance and Meaning
The Mid-Autumn Festival holds great significance in Asian cultures, representing a time of unity, thanksgiving, and family. It is a time to reflect on the year’s harvest and to give thanks for the abundance of food and prosperity. The festival also represents the importance of the moon in Chinese culture, with its symbolism of reunion, harmony, and perfection.
Moreover, the festival is an occasion for families to come together, enjoy a meal, and bond with shared traditions. It is also an opportunity to pass down cultural heritage to younger generations, reinforcing the importance of preserving cultural identity and promoting social harmony.
Tsinghua University Students Celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival