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Mid-Autumn Festival


The Mid-Autumn festival is held on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month, and has a very long history in China. As the second most important festival in China, following the Spring Festival, the Mid-Autumn Festival is enjoyed by many, and the Chinese population use this opportunity to express their gratitude to heaven and earth for the blessing they have enjoyed. Unlike most other festivals, the Mid-Autumn Festival is featured by serenity and delicacy.

Where did the Mid-Autumn Festival originate from?


The tale started when the earth had ten suns. People were living in agony, and each day they would beg Heaven to help them. The Jade Emperor heard their prayers, and sent his best archer named Hou Yi down to earth to help the people in need.. However, Hou Yi became a tyrant people once again began to live in misery. His wife Chang knew that the people's lives would remain awful  forever if Hou Yi’s life was everlasting. In order to make sure this didn’t happen, she stole and drank the elixir, and floated up into the moon. In memory of Chang E, people later set the date of the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month as Mid-Autumn Festival.

People also celebrate this festival for another reason, as the festival of agriculture. People place their harvested fruits such as apples, pears, peaches, grapes, pomegranates, melons, oranges and pomelos on an altar, besides these, moon cake, the traditional food of this festival, are also placed. This is the holiday when a family can sit down together and eat "moon cake" while watching the moon , and then worship the moon to show their thanks for the harvest. This custom can be traced back to as far as the ancient Xia and Shang Dynasties (2000 B.C.-1066 B.C.)

How do people celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival?

Before the Mid-Autumn Day, people come home from all corners of the world to do preparations for the grand festival. Usually on the night of Mid Autumn festival, every family will have a reunion dinner sharing the moonlight. After dinner they will start to prepare for a party in the yard, to view the full moon.

Round moon cakes are eaten on this day and are also symbolic of family unity. Moon cake is the gift you give to friends and relatives at the festival. Traditional moon cakes are made with sweet lotus seed paste with one or more egg yolks. Modern moon cakes come in various styles, and come in flavours such as green tea, red beans, hams and nuts, and even ice-cream.

While the adults prepare the food, the children will help to hang up lots of lanterns with riddles on them for decoration and for games. Children enjoy walking in the streets with their lanterns and enjoying the moon while their parents prepare the feast.

Rabbit Grandpa, which is made of mud with various shapes in it, is a traditional toy for children in Beijing within the Mid-Autumn Festival. It is said that the goddess Chang’er who lived in the moon palace kept a jade rabbit as her pet, with this myth, old Chinese people created this rabbit grandpa to worship the goddess and for wish making.

Chang'e and rabbit
What is the story about the custom of eating moon cake on the Mid-Autumn Festival?

There is a significant historical story surrounding the Mid-Autumn Festival. During the Yuan dynasty in the 14th Century, Chinese rebels overthrew the Mongolians, stuffing the rebellious messages to them in the moon cake, and the secret messages were smuggled to the revolutionists. A short time after that, Mongolia was overthrown and Ming dynasty was born. Today, things are much tamer and the mooncakes are given to friends and relatives during the festival.

moon cake

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