Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as Chinese Moon Festival, is celebrated when the moon is full, on the 15th day of the eighth month in the traditional lunar calendar. All across Asia, families gather to express their gratitude for another harvest season with mooncakes, lanterns, and family feasts.
The Ancient Chinese tale says, long ago there were ten suns in the sky. The heat from the suns was causing people on earth to die. Thankfully, Hou Yi, an excellent archer shot down nine of the suns with his bow and arrows. The Emperor gave Hou Yi an elixir of immortality as a reward.
But he didn’t want to leave his wife Chang’e, so he stored the elixir at home. One day while Yi was hunting, someone broke in to steal the elixir. However, Chang’e drank it before the thief could take it. She flew upwards towards the heavens, taking the moon as her residence.
Hou Yi returned, heartbroken after hearing what happened. As he shouted her name towards the sky, he saw how the moon resembled her beautiful face. From then on, Hou Yi and others began offering sacrifices of Chang’e’s favorite food and praying to her for peace and good fortune.
Mooncakes take center stage during Mid-Autumn Festival. Their round shape symbolizes the moon and reunion of families. They come in all kinds of sweet and savory flavors. During the holiday, people present mooncakes to friends and family, wishing them a happy, long life.
Mooncakes originated in the 14th century, by Han rebels to overthrow the Mongolian empire. Folklore says they used the pastries to pass secret messages between each other, inciting them to take up arms and overthrow their oppressive rulers.
Colorful, bright lanterns are a favorite children’s toy during Mid-Autumn festival. Kids enjoy flying lanterns around, often shaped like animals, under the full moon.
Mid-Autumn Festival is the second important festival, next to Chinese New Year. Be careful not to confuse Mid-Autumn Festival with Lantern Festival that marks the end of Chinese New Year each winter.