Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month according to the Lunar Calendar. Originally, this festival was to celebrate the years harvest and it’s a time for families to gather together and catch up with one another while enjoying some delicious moon cakes. Ever since the Shang Dynasty (16th-10th century BCE) the Chinese have celebrated this holiday. Although originally it was to worship the Mountain Gods for a good harvest, now people celebrate this holiday as a celebration of unity of family and friends.
The legend goes that there were once 10 suns in the sky and the hero Hou Yi shot down 9 out of the 10 suns and was pronounced king by the thankful people. However, he soon became a conceited and tyrannical ruler. In order to live long without death, he asked for the elixir from Xiwangmu (a witch). But his wife, Chang’e (tang uh), stole it on the fifteenth of August because she did not want the cruel king to live long and hurt more people. She took the magic potion to prevent her husband from becoming immortal. Houyi was so angry when discovered that Chang’e took the elixir, he shot at his wife as she flew toward the moon, though he missed. Chang’e fled to the moon and became the spirit of the moon. Houyi died soon because he was overcome with great anger. Thereafter, people offer a sacrifice to Chang’e on every lunar fifteenth of August to commemorate Chang’e’s action.
It’s also said that Chang’e took her pet rabbit to keep her company. If you look at the moon hard enough it’s said that you can see the shadow of Chang’e rabbit.
One thing that people eat during Mid-Autumn Festival are moon cakes. These pastries can either be sweet or savory. There’s often an intricate design on the moon cakes, either a rabbit or a lantern.
Moon cakes have become more and more popular, and there have been “modern” versions that have been made. Some notable ones are ice cream moon cakes by Häagen-Dazs. It’s a fresh and modern twist on an ancient tradition.
Another tradition is to celebrate with lanterns. You could either make your own or buy one to light up. Lantern parades and displays are prevalent in China and other countries that celebrate this tradition. One fun tradition is to solve “Deng Mi” which translates to “Lantern Riddles” Usually if you can solve the riddles you get a lantern to parade around.
The most important part of Mid-Autumn Festival is to be thankful. Although not many celebrate this festival for the harvest now, many still get together with family members and enjoy each other’s company.
How do you celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival?