Mid-Autumn Festival (Mooncake Festival) 2022: Greetings, Traditions, Food, Stories…
Mid-Autumn Festival, Zhongqiu Jie (中秋节) in Chinese, is also called the Moon Festival or the Mooncake Festival. It is the second most important festival in China after Chinese New Year. It is also celebrated by many other Asian countries, such as Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
In China, Mid-Autumn Festival is a celebration of the rice harvest and many fruits. Ceremonies are held both to give thanks for the harvest and to encourage the harvest-giving light to return again in the coming year.
It is also a reunion time for families, a little like Thanksgiving. Chinese people celebrate it by gathering for dinners, worshiping the moon, lighting paper lanterns, eating mooncakes, etc.
Mid-Autumn Festival traditionally falls on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, which is in September or early October on the Gregorian calendar. As, traditionally, the four seasons each have three lunar months, day 15 of month 8 is "the middle of autumn", hence the festival’s lunar date.
In 2022, the Mid-Autumn Festival falls on September 10th (Saturday). Chinese people have a 3-day public holiday from September 10th to 12th.
Here are some of the most popular traditional celebrations.
Enjoying a Dinner with Family
The roundness of the moon represents the reunion of the family in Chinese minds. Families will have dinner together on the evening of Mid-Autumn Festival.
The public holiday (usually 3 days) is mainly for Chinese people working in different places to have enough time to reunite. Those staying too far away from their parents’ home usually get together with friends.
Mooncakes are the most representative food for Mid-Autumn Festival. Their round shape and sweet flavor symbolize completeness and sweetness. At the Mid-Autumn Festival, people eat mooncakes together with family, or present mooncakes to relatives or friends, to express their love and best wishes.
Mooncakes are usually eaten after dinner while admiring the moon.
Appreciating the Moon
The full moon is the symbol of family reunions in Chinese culture. It is said, sentimentally, that “the moon on the night of Mid-Autumn Festival is the brightest and the most beautiful”.
Chinese people usually set a table outside their houses and sit together to admire the full moon while enjoying tasty mooncakes. Parents with little kids often tell the legend of Chang'e Flying to the Moon. As a game, kids try their best to find the shape of Chang'e on the moon.
There are many Chinese poems praising the beauties of the moon and expressing people’s longing for their friends and families at Mid-Autumn.
Worshiping the Moon
According to the legend of Mid-Autumn Festival, a fairy maiden named Chang’e lives on the moon with a cute rabbit. On the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival, people set a table under the moon with mooncakes, snacks, fruits, and a pair of candles lit on it. Some believe that by worshiping the moon, Chang’e (the moon goddess) may fulfill their wishes.
Making and Carrying Mid-Autumn Festival Lanterns
Lanterns are a notable part of Mid-Autumn Festival. People make lanterns, carry lanterns to do moon gazing, hang lanterns in trees or houses, release sky lanterns, or visit public lantern displays, hence it is even be known as a lantern festival (not to be confused with the Lantern Festival on the full moon after Chinese New Year).
Lanterns have long been associated with the festival since the Tang Dynasty (618–907), possibly because of their traditional symbolization of luck, light, and familial togetherness.
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