The Mid Autumn Festival is one of the most important festivals celebrated in East and Southeastern Asia – in fact, it’s the second most important holiday after the Chinese New Year.
Even if you’re not familiar with the festival, you might have heard it referred to as one of its alternative names: Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival.
Although it dates back to the Shang period (c. 1600–1046 BCE), the Mid-Autumn Festival became an official Chinese holiday during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE).
Mid-Autumn Festival occurs on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month and is a time to celebrate a successful harvest.
It’s also believed to coincide with the fullest moon of the year and rituals relating to the moon are an important part of the festival.
The ancient Chinese people believed that the moon was closely linked with rejuvenation. Offerings may also be made to Chang’e, the Moon Goddess of Immortality. For example, people may burn incense as a tribute to her.
Another significant way that the Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated centers around brightly colored lanterns.
These lanterns are lit and used as decoration in homes and throughout the streets. Sky lanterns are also used on occasion.
The exact origin of the inclusion of lanterns in the Mid-Autumn Festival isn’t known but it may have to do with the fact that lanterns symbolize fertility which ties in with the overall purpose of the festival.
Like with any festival, the Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated with great food!
As the alternate name suggests, celebrants indulge in mooncakes, a thick puck-shaped pastry that is filled with a viscous mixture of red bean paste or lotus seed paste.
The cake is usually enjoyed in small slices and accompanied with tea.
Another popular part of the Mid-Autumn Festival is the rituals and celebrations relating to courtship and marriage.
Matchmaking events such as dances may be held, and some cities may even have events that are similar to speed dating.
It’s also a time to strengthen familial relationships as well.
Many will reunite with their immediate and extended families during this time to exchange gifts or simply enjoy a delicious meal together.
This year, the Mid-Autumn Festival is being celebrated on Tuesday, September 21st.
If you’re looking for an ideal place to celebrate, you have several options. If you’re located outside of Asia, you may have a local celebration to attend.
For example, in the United States, there are several cities that have a Chinatown neighborhood and residents and businesses in those districts will hold celebrations of some kind.
If you have the opportunity to travel for the Mid-Autumn Festival, your best bet is to head to China. You’ll have many options when you get there as the festival is celebrated throughout the country.
Beihai Park in Beijing is a popular place for the festival, attracting over a million celebrants in an average year.
No matter where you find yourself during the Mid-Autumn Festival, this exciting festival is a fun experience as well as a great chance to learn about Chinese culture.
One of the best ways to prepare for your trip to China is to learn some words and phrases in Chinese!
Learn through Mingo Space, taking beginner lessons or you can even book a free level test if you’ve studied the language before.
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