The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as Moon Festival or the Festival of Reunion in China, is one of the most important festivals in China. It falls on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month. It is a date that parallels the autumn and spring Equinoxes of the solar calendar, when the moon is supposedly at its fullest and roundest.
The custom of worshipping the moon can date back to the Xia and Shang Dynasties (2000 B.C.-1066 B.C.). In the Zhou Dynasty (1066 B.C.-221 B.C.), people hold ceremonies to worship the moon whenever the Mid-Autumn Festival sets in. During the Tang Dynasty (618-907), it became a prevalent festival. Since the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) , the custom of Mid-Autumn Festival celebration has become unprecedentedly popular.
Celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival
People in different parts of China may have different ways to celebrate the festival. However, there are some customs shared by the whole nation.
As the full and round moon symbolizes reunion in Chinese culture, the Mid-Autumn Festival is also known as the festival of reunion. On that day, all the family members will get together to have a family reunion dinner. After dinner, they will sit outside to admire the bright full moon and eat mooncakes.
There are also some local customs during that day. In Guangzhou in South China, a huge lantern show is held on that day. Thousands of differently shaped lanterns are lit, forming a fantastic contrast with the bright moonlight. In East China’s Zhejiang Province, people watch the flood tide of the Qian-tang River during the Mid-Autumn Festival.
There are many legends about the moon and the most popular one is Chang’e flying to the moon.
One day, the ten suns all assembled around the earth and their presence destroyed all vegetation. Houyi, the greatest archer in the world shot down nine of the suns and then became the emperor. His wife Chang’e stole Houyi’s elixir of life in order to save the people from her husband’s tyrannical rule. After drinking it, she found herself floating and flew to the moon. More about the legend…