The Chinese Moon Festival (or Mid-autumn Festival) this year was on the 8th September. Chinese culture is deeply imbedded in traditional festivals and just like Christmas in the UK, the Moon Festival is one of the most important traditional events for the Chinese.
The Moon Festival is full of legends told each year, for instance legend says that Chang’e flew to the moon, where she has lived ever since. You might see her dancing on the moon during the Moon Festival. The Moon Festival is also an occasion for family reunions, when the full moon rises, families get together to watch the full moon, eat mooncakes, and sing moon poems. With the full moon, the legend, the family and the poems, you can’t help thinking that this is really a perfect world. That is why the Chinese are so fond of the Moon Festival.
A big part of the moon festival is mooncakes making and sharing mooncakes is one of the biggest traditions of this festival. In Chinese culture, a round shape symbolizes completeness and unity, thus the sharing of round mooncakes among family members signify the completeness and unity of families. In some areas of China, there is a tradition of making mooncakes during the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival. The senior person in that household would cut the mooncakes into pieces and distribute them to each family member, signifying family reunion. In modern times, however, making mooncakes at home has given way to the more popular custom of giving mooncakes to family members, although the meaning of maintaining familial unity remains.
Although typical mooncakes can be around a few inches in diameter, imperial chefs have made some as large as several feet in diameter, with its surface impressed with designs of Chang’e, cassia trees, or the Moon-Palace.
The festival was a time to enjoy the successful reaping of rice and wheat with food offerings made in honour of the moon. Today, it is still an occasion for outdoor reunions among friends and relatives to eat mooncakes and watch the moon, a symbol of harmony and unity. The festival is celebrated with many cultural or regional customs, for example, burning incense in reverence to deities including Chang’e and performance of dragon and lion dances.
A notable part of celebrating the holiday is the carrying of brightly lit lanterns, lighting lanterns on towers, or floating sky lanterns. One tradition involving lanterns, is to write riddles on lanterns and have other people try to guess the answers.
We hope that if you have an opportunity that you will have a try of mooncake and try and get into the spirit of the Moon Festival.