It's a tradition that's thousands of years old and, like the moon that lights up the celebration, it's still going strong!
China and throughout many Asian countries people celebrate
the Harvest Moon. This year the Mid-Autumn festival falls on Friday, September 13, 2019.
Also known as the Moon Festival, the night of the full moon signals a time of completeness and abundance. Little surprise, then, that the Mid-Autumn Festival (Zhong Qiu Jie) is a day of family reunions much like a Western Thanksgiving.
Throughout the Mid-Autumn Festival, children are delighted to
stay up past midnight, parading multi-colored lanterns into the wee hours as families take to the streets to moon-gaze.
It is also a romantic night for lovers, who sit holding hands on hilltops, riverbanks and park benches, captivated by the brightest moon of the year.
The festival dates back to the Tang dynasty in 618 A.D., and as with many celebrations in China there are ancient
legends closely associated with it.
Kong, Malaysia and Singapore, it's sometimes referred to as
the Lantern Festival, (not to be confused with a similar celebration
during the Chinese
New Year), but whatever name it goes by, the centuries-old
festival remains a beloved annual ritual celebrating an abundance
of food and family.
festival foods & festivities
Moon cakes (photo, left) remain one of the oldest traditional ways to celebrate the festival. Other traditional
foods for a Chinese Mid-Autumn feast are red for good
luck. Lobster and salmon are particular favorites along with
apples, pomegranates, and roasted chestnuts.
Of course, this being the harvest festival, there is also an abundance of fresh harvest vegetables available at markets such as pumpkins, squash, and grapes.
• The modern Mid-Autumn Festival weekend is a time for family reunions, and one of the busiest travel times of the year when the Chinese clog the roads in epic traffic jams.
• The full moon and cooler weather call for snuggling and moon gazing. In some parts of China, parents still plot to arrange for blind dates for their umarried adult offspring during the Mid-Autumn festival.
• In Beijing, evening boat rides to gaze at the moon are wildly popular during the festival and must be booked up to months in advance.
• Sweet bean filling and fruit flavored moon cakes are the most popular and cheap to buy in China, but prices can rise into the thousands of yuan (about US$400) for a fancy gift box of 'gourmet' moon cakes.
• Here the one about moon cakes being responsible for the overthrow of invading Mongols? As the story goes, secret messages were distributed inside thousands of moon cakes during the Mid-Autumn festival in 1368 to alert revolutionaries when to act. The Mongols' ouster eventually led to the establishment of the Ming dynasty. There's still no real evidence if moon cakes had anything to do with it, but it's a great story!
More about the Mid-Autumn Festival around the Web
Web, learn more about Mid-Autumn
festival celebrations in the U.S. and around the world
and discover a rich source of food and
recipes of the season, festive e-mail greetings, along
with the colorful folklore, stories, music, poems and legends
associated with the Mid-Autumn Festival.