As the year embraces September, so too will Chinese people begin to embrace the nearing Mid-Autumn Festival. The Mid-Autumn Festival has evolved from “sacrificing the moon” ceremonies. So the Autumn Equinox in ancient times and has become a precious cultural heritage. To give you an idea of what it’s like: adults usually indulge in moon cakes of different varieties with a good cup of piping hot Chinese tea, while the youngsters run about with brightly-lit lanterns. After nightfall, entire families go out under the stars for a walk or picnics, looking up at the full silver moon, thinking of their nearby relatives or friends, as well as those who are far from home.
The mid-autumn festival is known as one of the four major traditional festivals including the Spring Festival, the Tomb-sweeping Festival, and the Dragon Boat Festival. As the influence of Chinese culture increases, many people in eastern and southeastern countries, including Chinese locals overseas, give it much consideration.
During the Mid-Autumn Festival, sons and daughters come back to their parents’ homes. Sometimes people who have settled overseas will return to visit their parents.
A line from a verse “The moon at the home village is exceptionally brighter” expresses those feelings.
It means that the sense of happiness and has not finished even after the mid-autumn night. Hence the following night, people like to invite family and friends once again to enjoy the moon, which is called “chasing the moon”. It can also be a romantic night for lovers, who sit holding hands on riverbanks and park benches, enraptured by the brightest moon of the year.
wǒ kě yǐ chī qī ge yuè bǐng ma ?
May I have seven mooncakes?
xǔ duō shāng diàn zǎo yǐ zài xiāo shòu yuè bǐng le .
But many shops have already been selling moon cakes.
Moon cakes are shaped like the moon to celebrate this night, thus it implies a happy reunion and is also called the cake of reunion. Eating moon cakes is an essential custom across China because everybody wants to have feelings of a reunion or expresses missing his or her family.
Lanterns enhance the atmosphere of the Mid-autumn festival’s night while people enjoy the moon. Usually, in advance, people tie bamboo poles with lamps on eaves and terraces and instal them according to the character shape. On the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival, family members get together for an enjoyable time.
The custom of enjoying the full moon is closely connected with “sacrificing the moon” as mentioned before. It is said that the moon is closest to the earth on the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival, and looks the largest, roundest, and brightest at this time. People feel that it conveys the meaning of perfection and auspiciousness, which is the main reason why people enjoy the moon in the Mid-Autumn Festival.
In the Tang dynasty, enjoying the moon was quite popular, thus there are now many well-known moon-related poems.
n. full moon
mǎn yuè shí yuè liàng shì yuán xíng de.
The full moon has a circular shape.
yì lún mǎn yuè zhào zài wǒ shēn shàng , wǒ bèi nòng xǐng le.
I was woken by the full moon shining in on me.
But 满月 also means “a baby’s completion of its first month of life”
hái zi míng tiān jiù mǎn yuè le.
The baby will be one month old tomorrow.
Additionally，there are other customs, such as appreciating blossom fragrance, drinking the liquor fermented with osmanthus flowers, dragon dance, and more.
Some allegorical sayings:
The moon on August 15th —— Upright and bright
The happy events on August 15th —— People and moon, both have a reunion
Looking at osmanthus flowers on August 15th —— blooming flowers and a full moon
The date of the Mid-Autumn Festival this year is October 1st, the same day as Chinese National Day.
While the Mid Autumn Festival holiday is one day, there are three days to celebrate the national day holiday. Add the 2 days of the weekend and in all there are 8 days total for the holidays starting from October 1st to 8th this year.
There is a saying in Chinese that marriages are prepared on the moon and made in heaven. Yue Lao, the man who prepares the unions on the moon is said to keep a record book with all the names of newborn babies. He is the only one who knows everyone’s future partners, and nobody can fight the decisions written down in his book.
He one of the reasons why the moon is so important in Chinese mythology and especially at the time of the Moon Festival. Many people will travel to a suitable location in order to view the moon in the hope that their wishes will be granted.
Even couples who can’t be together still enjoy the night by watching the moon at the same time so it seems that they are together in a way.
Hopefully the Moon Festival will bring you happiness too.