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Cultural Heritage / Trip Ideas

How do Chinese people celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival?

By Teng Mu

September 18

September 15th was China’s Mid-Autumn Festival. Make sure you know how Chinese people have celebrated one of their biggest days.

September 15th was China’s Mid-Autumn Festival. Make sure you know how Chinese people have celebrated one of their biggest days.

Celebrated annually on 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese lunar calendar, the Mid-Autumn Festival, also called the Moon Festival, is the second most important traditional Chinese holiday after the Spring Festival.

In the Zhou Dynasty (BC1046-256), Chinese people began worshiping the moon in mid-autumn to pray for a good harvest. The festival has since become an occasion to get together with family and friends. Legendary stories about the Goddess Chang’s flight to the moon, Wu Gang’s cutting of the laurel tree and Emperor Ming’s wanderings in Moon Palace endowed the occasion with a romantic mystique.

The bright full moon at the Mid-Autumn Festival [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Wang Jilin]
The bright full moon at the Mid-Autumn Festival [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Wang Jilin]
During the festival people usually watch the full moon, eat mooncakes, and admire laurel trees. Nowadays, some forms of celebration are much more colorful.

People are holding worship ceremony for the moon. [Image Credit: china.com.cn]
People are holding worship ceremony for the moon. [Image Credit: china.com.cn]
Traditional clothing lovers dress in ancient costumes and hold grand ceremonies to worship the moon. Some people light lotus candles and make a wish before sending the waxy crafts adrift. In one folk tradition, participants pound sticky rice into cakes, whose round shapes and stickiness symbolize reunion.

People are pounding the sticky rice cakes. [Image Credit: china.com.cn]
People are pounding the sticky rice cakes. [Image Credit: china.com.cn]
If you already have a few people reunited, you can do as many others across the country do and share one giant mooncake.

People are making rice figurines. [Image Credit: china.com.cn]
People are making rice figurines. [Image Credit: china.com.cn]
As a time for family reunion, the festival and its full moon fills those far from home with nostalgia and brings to mind a line from Tang-era poet Su Shi: “Though far apart, we are still able to share the beauty of the moon together.”

People are lighting lotus candles. [Image Credit: china.com.cn]
People are lighting lotus candles. [Image Credit: china.com.cn]
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