Celebrate the moon with the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, held annually on the 15th of the eighth lunar month, which falls between mid-September or early October, on September 21 this year. Originating with the Chinese, celebrations of this festival spread with the immigration of the Chinese people. Now, Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is celebrated with varying customs across multiple Asian countries.
History of Mid-Autumn Moon Festival
The Mid-Autumn Moon Festival has been celebrated by the Chinese since the 10th century B.C., and it has become increasingly popular since the time of the early Tang Dynasty.
There are also multiple legends connected to this festival. A popular version includes the story of Chang’e, the wife of an archer, Hou Yi. As the story goes, Hou Yi shot down nine of the 10 suns that were overheating the earth, earning a special elixir as a reward from the Goddess of the Heavens for saving our Earth. This elixir could enable Hou Yi to ascend to the heavens and become a god. However, an evil man had his eye on this elixir and visited Hou Yi’s abode when he wasn’t home. Chang’e, in an effort to protect the elixir from the evil man, drank it herself and flew to the moon with a rabbit, which she took so she would have some company there. Ever since, the heartbroken Hou Yi placed his wife’s favorite food on the table on the day of the full moon, hoping she would reappear.
Another legend changes the ending of this story, with Hou Yi going to live on the sun after his wife’s relocation, only visiting her once a year, on this day. That is why the moon is at its fullest.
Mid-Autumn Moon Festival timeline
The ancient Chinese start observing the custom of worshipping the moon during the Shang dynasty.
This festival becomes more and more popular in the Tang dynasty.
The earliest records of the Mid-Autumn Moon festival being celebrated as an actual festival originate with the Northern Song dynasty.
The tradition of eating mooncakes during the festival begins in the Yuan dynasty.
Mid-Autumn Moon Festival FAQs
Why do we celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival?
Moon Festival is also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival or Harvest Festival. People gather with their families to eat and drink together, and celebrate and admire the moon.
How long is mid-autumn 2020?
Traditionally, there’s a three-day holiday, starting with the actual date.
Who celebrates Mid-Autumn Festival 2020?
Countries like China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines observe this festival.
How To Celebrate Mid-Autumn Moon Festival
Light a lantern
The Chinese mark this day by lighting paper lanterns, to light the way as people celebrate in the nighttime. Add a little whimsicality to your celebrations by visiting a local Chinese market to find traditional paper lanterns for this festival. If you can't find one, any lantern will do. It is the thought that counts.
Fire up the barbecue
Turn the celebration into a party with a little barbecue fun. According to a Taiwanese tradition that was mainly influenced by a soy sauce manufacturer's advertising campaign, no Mid-Autumn Moon festival is complete without a barbecue meal. Grill and barbecue your own choice of food and you can even experiment with slightly traditional Chinese and Taiwanese recipes.
Tell a story under the moonlight
Moonlit nights are a great time for telling magical stories. Turn the night into storytime for friends and families. Embrace the sentiment of camaraderie behind this festival and forge new friendships while strengthening old ones.
5 Fun Facts About Mooncakes
Apparently, mooncakes became a Mid-Autumn Moon Festival tradition during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644 A.D.).
Shaped like the moon
As their name suggests, whatever their filling, these cakes are always circular and round in shape, symbolizing the moon.
Modified as per local palettes
Consumed by Asians in various parts of the world, the fillings for mooncakes have been adapted to various palettes, like the ‘halal kaya’ mooncakes that are safe for Muslims to consume in Malaysia.
Some are more expensive than an iPhone
The otherwise reasonably priced mooncakes take on exorbitant prices during the festival according to the type of filling; local bureaucrats have even started exchanging these with each other as luxurious presents.
Mooncakes were a means of rebellion
People who were protesting cruel treatment by the government in the Yuan dynasty used mooncakes to pass messages back and forth among each other.
Why We Love Mid-Autumn Moon Festival
Learn about a new culture and tradition
Understanding and celebrating this lunar festival helps you develop a deeper knowledge of Asian culture and traditions, expanding your worldview.
The lights turn a regular street into a fairytale
Who doesn't love a good string of fairy lights? With this festival, you get a chance to decorate your home with lights, lanterns, and more, turning a normal day into a special festive occasion, with decor to match.
The stories are great, too
Folklore about someone living on the moon? Or someone living on the sun? These famous legends are as much a part of the festivities and traditions as the festival itself. If we didn't learn about Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, would we have ever heard such wonderful and fantastical tales?
Mid-Autumn Moon Festival dates