The Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节), also known as “The Moon Festival” is one of the most important annual celebrations in China and Vietnam. The festival takes place every year on the 15th day of the 8th Chinese lunar month; this day is chosen for the celebration as it is considered to be the time of the year when the moon is at its fullest and brightest. In 2017, the day happens to be October 4th.
How Is The Mid-Autumn Celebrated?
This event is an opportunity for the Chinese to spend time surrounded by family and loved ones, and also it’s an occasion for locals and tourist to enjoy different activities such as lantern parades, gazing at the moon, eating harvest food and watching fiery dragon dances.
A Tradition Of More Than 3000 Years
The history of the Mid-Autumn festival goes back to 3000 years, to the Shang Dynasty (c.1600–1046 BC). It was a custom for Chinese emperors to worship the moon annually in order to pray for a good harvest.
The festivities gained popularity during the Tang and Song Dynasties (618-1279) and it’s known that Mid-Autumn was celebrated as a festival for the first time during the Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127).
Look Towards The Moon
Among the traditional customs for this Festival is the appreciation of the moon. Families gather together and go outside to enjoy and gaze at the moon while it’s at its fullest and brightest.
The best places to appreciate the moon during the festival are Elephant Trunk Hill, West Lake, Mount Huang, Mount Emei, Mount Lu, Dongting Lake and Yangtze River, all of these are wonderful destinations to enjoy the natural beauty of its surroundings.
Mid-Autumn Festival Fare
Mooncakes are a traditional Chinese pastry and the culinary centerpiece during the Mid-Autumn Festival. There’s a wide variety of stuffing for this sugary delicacy that includes walnuts, peanuts, almonds, egg yolk, lotus seed, pine nuts, sunflower seeds. More than eating them, it’s the custom to give them as presents, symbolizing happiness and reunion.
Other foods eaten during this occasion are pumpkins, pomeloes, crabs and grapes since these are considered to be harvest foods too.
One of the most visible attractions during this national holiday are the handmade lanterns that are carried during the parades. The traditional lanterns are made with paper and lit with candles. There are some varieties that include wooden or rattan frames and are painted with allegorical images of the festivities.
A more recent trend is to see lanterns that depict popular children characters such as Pikachu or Hello Kitty. These ones are the favorites among Vietnamese kids, given that the Mid-Autumn Festival is also known as a Children’s Festival in this country.
A Dragon With Some Moves
One of the main traditions in Hong Kong is the fiery dragon dances. This custom, that started more than 100 years ago, begins the 14th day of the 8th lunar month, meaning one day before the proper Mid-Autumn Festival day. There’s drum music and more than 30,000 performers. They go down the streets of Tai Hang in Causeway while executing the fiery dance, bouncing energetically among the people.
Start Planning Now
Given that it’s the second most important festival in China and that it’s a 3-day public holiday, anyone that wishes to enjoy the festivities should book the travel and hotel accommodations in advance. Millions of locals will be traveling to spend those days with their families, so get to it!