The Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節)
BY PATRICK VAUGHN
SCIENCE & TECH EDITOR
The Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節) is coming up! The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is an important traditional holiday about family, food, worship, and celebration. It is celebrated every year, during the time in which the moon is at its brightest and fullest, on the 15th day of the eight month in the lunar calendar, or from September to the beginning of October in the Gregorian calendar. It is celebrated in East and Southeast Asia and it has also become one of the major traditional Chinese festivals as famous as Chinese New Year.
This festival originates in ancient China. The celebration of the autumn harvest began in the Shang Dynasty and Western Zhou Dynasty. The name first appeared in the “Rite of Zhou.” The "Book of Rites," said, "The Mid-Autumn Moon nourishes senility and eats porridge."
As it gained popularity, the festival truly started during the Tang Dynasty, when the emperor began celebrating it and rewarding his officials. It prevailed during the Song Dynasty, when the popular folk festival officially started on the 15th day of the eight month. However, this festival peaked during the Ming and Qing Dynasties when it became an official folk festival in China.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is a holiday that brings families together. People come home to eat delicious food together, reunite, and worship their ancestors.
Food is a really important part of this holiday. The food signifies completeness and reunion and reflects the moon. We eat a lot of fruit such as 柚子, which is Chinese grapefruit. However, dessert is the most notable part of the holiday. Mooncakes are for dessert and they're absolutely delicious. Its round shape symbolizes completeness and reunion, like the moon. There are many different fillings in mooncakes, but my personal favorite is red bean.
This festival is based on the Chinese legend about Chang’e. She becomes immortal and lives on the moon, so we worship the moon. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the peak era in which this became a major traditional festival in China, the moon was admired and worshipped. According to the "Zhengde Jiangning County Chronicles," Families come together to watch and admire the moon, which is called, “Celebrating Reunion.” People sitting and drinking together is called, “Full Moon,” and going out to the city is called, “Walking Moon.” Lanterns are also used in celebration.
This festival also celebrates the autumn harvest and worship the land gods. According to the lunar calendar, August is the second month of Autumn, which explains why this is the Mid-Autumn festival. This festival is a time to celebrate the autumn harvest, when the crops have ripened and are ready to eat. This is comparable to Thanksgiving in that we give thanks to the harvest, and that food unites people together.
“The Mid Autumn Festival is a chance to catch up with family amidst our busy lives. We get to chat, eat moon cakes, view the moon- it’s a great time in general!”