China’s Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated on month 8 day 15 of China’s lunar calendar (in September or October). Mid-Autumn Festival 2015 is on September 27.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is the second most important festival to Chinese people after the Spring Festival. Every year, when the festival comes, Chinese go home from every corner of the country and the world for family reunions.
Chinese people believe the full moon is a symbol of peace, prosperity, and family reunion. On Mid-Autumn night the harvest moon is supposed to be the brightest and fullest of the year, so the festival is also known as the “Day of Reunion” and the “Moon Festival”. This day is also considered as a harvest festival since fruits, vegetables and grain are harvested by this time.
Here are the things you should know about this special occasion, perhaps they could be a guide to what you can do on this day.
How Mid-Autumn Festival Began
The Mid-Autumn Festival has a history of over 3,000 years, dating back to moon worship in the Shang Dynasty (1600–1046 BC). It‘s such an important festival that many poems were written about it, stories and legends on the festival are widespread, and its origins have been guessed at and explained by generations of Chinese.
Legend about Mid-Autumn Festival
In the ancient past, there was a hero named Hou Yi who was excellent at archery. His wife was Chang’e. One year, the ten suns rose in the sky together, causing great disaster to people. Yi shot down nine of the suns and left only one to provide light. An immortal admired Yi and sent him the elixir of immortality. Yi did not want to leave Chang’e and be immortal without her, so he let Chang’e keep the elixir. But Peng Meng, one of his apprentices, knew this secret. So, on the fifteenth of August in the lunar calendar, when Yi went hunting, Peng Meng broke into Yi’s house and forced Chang’e to give the elixir to him. Chang’e refused to do so. Instead, she swallowed it and flew into the sky. Since she loved very much her husband and hoped to live nearby, she chose the moon for her residence. When Yi came back and learned what had happened, he felt so sad that he displayed the fruits and cakes Chang’e liked in the yard and gave sacrifices to his wife.
When the local people heard this, they arranged incense tables to worship the goddess Chang’e, praying for happiness and safety. Since then, worshipping and appreciating the moon during Mid-Autumn festival has become popular.
Mooncakes — the Must-Eat Mid-Autumn Treat
Mooncakes are traditional Chinese pastries eaten to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival. The festival typically involves much giving, receiving, and eating of mooncakes.
Chinese mooncakes are the traditional dessert/snack of Mid-Autumn Festival. They are round in shape, like the full harvest moon of Mid-Autumn’s evening. Up to 10 cm (4 inches) wide and 5 cm (2 inches) deep, most mooncakes consist of a pastry skin enveloping a sweet, dense filling.
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