It's a tradition that's thousands of years old and, like the moon that lights up the celebration, it's still going strong!
In the US, in
China and throughout many Asian countries people celebrate
the Harvest Moon. In 2024, the Mid-Autumn festival falls on Tuesday, September 17.
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
Lantern Festival). 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.
In San Francisco as well as in Los Angeles, New York City, and cities with Chinatowns coast to coast,
the Mid-Autumn festival includes parades, lion dancing, and lots of feasting! (photo courtesy SFCMA).
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.
harvest festivals with their own unique traditions also
occur during the same time - in Korea during the three-day
Chuseok festival; in Vietnam during Tet
Trung Thu; and in Japan at the Tsukimi festival.
DID YOU KNOW? Moon
festival fun facts
The moon festival is a time for romance!
• The modern moon festival weekend is a time for family reunions, and one of the busiest travel times of the year second only to Chinese New Year when motorists 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 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 moon cakes are the most popular festival treat (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.
• Hear the one about moon cakes being responsible for a revolution? 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
Elsewhere around the
Web, learn more about moon
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 ...
Mid-Autumn Festival - Check out all the details at Wikipedia including a deep background history, information on modern celebrations, and a colorful photo gallery.