With the popularity of Chinese festivals, western families are also beginning to celebrate some Chinese festivals. A very notable Chinese festival is the Mid-Autumn Festival. Do you want to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival with your children?
The Mid-Autumn Festival is a traditional Chinese festival. It is a harvest festival and is held on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar with full moon at night.
How many names does the Mid-Autumn Festival have?
Moon Festival (月亮节 yuèliàng jié)
Mooncake Festival (月饼节 yuèbǐng jié)
Reunion Festival (团圆节 tuányuán jié)
Chang’e Flying to the Moon (嫦娥奔月 Cháng’é Bēn Yuè)
Long long ago, there were ten suns in the sky. They burnt all the plants and people were dying on Earth, until one day an archer named Hou Yi shot down nine of the suns. The Western Queen Mother gave Hou Yi a bottle of medicine that could make him immortal. But Hou Yi didn’t want to become immortal because he wanted to stay with his wife Chang’e. So he didn’t take the medicine and just kept it at home. Pang Meng, one of his students, tried to steal the medicine when Hou Yi wasn’t at home one day. Faced with greedy Pang Meng, Chang’e decided to drink the medicine and later she flew to the moon where she would stay forever. To remember his lovely wife, Hou Yi started to worship the moon with many offerings.
Chī Tuán Yuán Fàn
吃 团 圆 饭
Eating Dinner with Family
Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the times during the year where families get to have a “团圆 (tuányuán) reunion”. Traditionally, the ladies of the house would prepare a home cooked spread and the entire family would try to spend quality time together. Most families nowadays choose to have their celebratory meal out rather than have extra work to do at home. As a result, popular restaurants may be completely booked on the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival.
guà dēng lóng
Guà Dēng Lóng
挂 灯 笼
Playing with Lanterns
What would a festival be without activities to make the children especially happy. The children’s favorite activity is without a doubt, making colorful lanterns. Making colorful lanterns is a fun project for families and kids to do together. The lanterns come in a variety of forms and can be shaped to look like animals, plants, or flowers. Making colorful lanterns is a favorite activity for kids. They build them in a variety of forms to hang from trees or to float along rivers. Colorful lanterns will also be hung in parks, providing a lovely nighttime view. They also create lanterns which can float because the air within the lantern is heated by lit candles. On the lanterns, the children write good wishes and then release them into the sky.
Cāi Dēng Mí
猜 灯 谜
Guessing Lantern Riddles
The solution is hidden in a word, a poem, or a phrase, and festivalgoers must guess it. However, guessing the riddles is as difficult as fighting a tiger, which is how lantern riddles acquired its other moniker, ‘lantern tigers.’
The primary distinction between Chinese lantern riddles and English riddles is that Chinese lantern riddles are more difficult to solve since Chinese characters can have a lot of different meanings. And it’s not uncommon for the lantern riddles to be incomprehensible when translated from Chinese to English.
Shǎng Yuè /Guān Yuè
赏 月 / 观 月
Appreciating/ Gazing the Moon
Do you know what else is a symbol of a family reunion? The moon. When the moon is full it is a perfect representation for a family reunion in Chinese culture. Many great ancient poets conveyed their homesickness by writing poetry about the moon. People are reminded of their relatives and country when they stare at the moon. During China’s Mid-Autumn Festival, people still enjoy enjoying the moon. On the evening of the Mid-Autumn Festival, Chinese family members have supper together. They may discuss their employment, the children, and their future plans after the meal.
Chī Yuè Bǐng
吃 月 饼
Mooncakes are usually sliced into pieces that equal the number of individuals in the family is a representation of a family reunion. They are gaining popularity in the West thanks to social media. Well-known celebrities and content creators are sharing their favorite mooncake flavors and even how to make a no-bake version called “snowskin” mooncakes. You can even find mooncake gift tins in some Asian Starbucks and the new flavors are incredible! They might include caramel and coffee, mint chocolate, brown sugar boba, and so many more depending on which country’s Starbucks you visit. They aren’t very traditional but young people like to share the new flavors with their friends and colleagues.
These are some flavors you might encounter:
1. 豆沙月饼 (dòushā yuèbǐng) Red Bean
2. 莲蓉月饼 (liánróng yuèbǐng) White Lotus
3. 鲜花饼 (xiānhuā bǐng) Flower
4. 蛋黄月饼 (dànhuáng yuèbǐng) Salted Egg Yolk
5. 冰皮月饼 (bīngpí yuèbǐng) Snow Skin
6. 鲜肉月饼 (xiānròu yuèbǐng) Minced Pork
7. 茶叶月饼 (cháyè yuèbǐng) Green Tea
8. 水果月饼 (shuǐguǒ yuèbǐng) Various Fruits
9. 五仁月饼 (wǔrén yuèbǐng) Mixed Nuts
10. 芋泥月饼 (yù’ní yuèbǐng) Yam
Zhōng qiū kuài lè!
中 秋 快 乐!
Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!
Zhù nǐ hé nǐ de jiā rén zhōng qiū kuài lè !
祝 你 和 你 的 家 人 中 秋 快 乐!
Wish you and your family a happy Mid-Autumn Festival！
Depending on which activities you decide to participate in, it’s likely you’ll find yourself deeply connected with a culture that spans thousands of years. Make it a point to create fun lantern shapes in your child’s favorite color and don’t forget to encourage the children to enjoy their time gazing at the moon. This can be a great opportunity to give thanks to the bounty of food and presence of family. It might even be the perfect opportunity to tell the romantic story about Chang’e, who will forever be on the moon looking down on us as we look back.