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Time

The 15th day of the eighth lunar month (which falls between the last 10-day period of September and the first 10-day period of October)

Venue

All over the country

Origin

In the Zhou Dynasty (11th century-256 B.C.), people held ceremonies to greet winter and worship the moon when the moon became full in mid autumn. The custom was passed down to the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) when the 15th day of the eighth lunar month was formally named the Mid-Autumn Festival. Now when the festival sets in, people would sit together to eat moon cakes, appreciate the bright full moon, celebrate the bumper harvest and enjoy the family love and happiness. To the Chinese people, the full  moon  symbolizes  family reunion, as does the “mooncakes.” Hence the Mid-Autumn Festival is also called the Family Reunion Festival.

What's On

At the Mid-Au­tumn Festival, people offer sacri­fices and pay homage to the moon, look up at the bright moon, and taste moon cakes. The Chinese people often associate the ancient legends with the silver moon at the Mid-Autumn Festival, such as “Chang’e Flying to the Moon,” “Wu Gang Felling the Laurel Tree,” and “Jade Rabbit Pounding Herbal Medicines into Pulp,” making the festival full of dreamlike and romantic colors. 

In ancient times, when celebrat­ing the Mid-Autumn Festival, people set a large incense burner table in the courtyard bathed in silver moonlight, on which moon cakes, a water melon cut in the shape of a lotus flower, apples, red jujubes, plums, grapes and other sacrifices were placed. Under the bright moon, a portrait of Moon Goddess was put on a table, facing the moon, and red candles were lit. Then the family members paid homage to the moon one by one, praying for family reunion and safety. The custom of worshipping the moon originated from the capital city in the Northern Song Dynasty. On the night of the festival, all the people of the whole city, men and women, old and young,put on the adults’ clothes, burned joss sticks, paid respects to the moon and expressed their wishes, praying for the blessing of Moon Goddess. Many modern activities of appreciating the moon originated from the activity of worshipping the moon in ancient times. Now, more often than not, a group of literary schol­ars get together at the festival to recite poems and write antithetical couplets, full of elegant cultural charm.

Moon cakes were elaborate sacrifices offered to Moon Goddess at the beginning. As time goes by, people have gradually integrated the activity in praise of the moon with the moon cakes. Now at the Mid-Autumn Festival, people eat moon cakes to express their homsickness and love for their family members, and their hope for a bumper harvest and a happy life, as the moon cake symbolizes family reunion. Moon cakes made in various parts of the country have have different flavors. In terms of the places of production, there are Beijing, Guangdong, Suzhou, Taiwan, Yunnan, Hong Kong and Chaozhou moon cakes; in terms of tastes, there are sweet, salty, sweet and salty, and spicy moon cakes; and in terms of fillings, there are five kinds of kemels, sweetened bean paste, crystal sugar, sesame seeds and ham. Some moon cakes have pulp crust; some have sweet  crust; and the others have thin and crisp crust. Tourist from all over the world must not forget to taste various kinds of delicious moon cakes at the Mid-Autumn Festival.