Around the world, there are holidays and celebrations that focus on the moon. For the Chinese, they observe what is known as the birthday of the moon. It is a harvest-related festival that involves the community and family. In this article, you will learn how the Chinese and other Asian countries celebrate the holiday, including traditional customs and foods.
The Chinese and Vietnamese celebrate the birthday of the Moon in a festival that takes place in September. The holiday is centered on recognizing the importance of the harvest. This tradition has a history that traces back more than 3,000 years to the moon worship that took place during China’s Shang Dynasty. The festival is calculated using the Chinese calendar , held on the 15th day of the eighth month. This date coincides with the autumnal equinox of the solar calendar. This is the time of the year when the moon is at its roundest and fullest.
Ways to Celebrate
The Mid-Autumn Festival is considered one of the few most important holidays found on the Chinese calendar. For farmers, it is a time to celebrate the end of the fall harvesting season. Traditionally, Chinese family members and friends will gather to admire the mid-autumn harvest moon, which is quite bright. Under the moon, they eat cakes and pomelos. In addition to the celebration, there are other cultural and regional customs that are followed.
Light plays an important role in the holiday. Some people will carry brightly lit lanterns, spend time lighting lanterns on towers, or floating sky lanterns. In Guangzhou, Hong Kong and other places, hanging lanterns are placed on a bamboo pole and erected on the highest places, such as trees, roofs, and terraces. Burning incenses that have a meaning to the deities associated with the holiday also takes place. Dandelion leaves are collected and given to family members. In Taiwan, barbequing meats in the outdoors became a popular way to celebrate the festival.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is also sometimes called the Lantern Festival or Mooncake Festival because of a traditional food served during the celebration. The mooncake is offered in different ways, including a thick filling usually made from lotus seed paste. Mooncakes are exchanged between friends or served during family gatherings.
According to tradition, the Chinese tell a tale of the Jade Rabbit, who makes medicine with a woman named Chang’e, which goes to the gods. Other stories see the Jade Rabbit take the form of a woman, who is represented as Chang’e. When looking at the dark parts towards the top of a full moon, some say it takes on the shape of a rabbit with ears that point to the upper right. The left side has two large circular shapes that form the head and body.