Mid Autumn Festival, or Moon Festival, is an important festival for Chinese people. In China, it is a family reunion time for families, just like Thanksgiving for Americans. It falls on the 15th day of the 8th month in the Chinese lunar calendar, which is normally in September or early October in the Gregorian calendar.
In 2020, Mid Autumn Festival is going to be Oct. 01.
What is the Mid Autumn Festival?
There are also many books we can read together with our kids around this special day.
Mid Autumn Festival Stories
Like all the traditional Chinese festivals, there are several legends for this special festival. One of them is about a couple: Hou Yi and Chang’e.
Long long time ago, there were 10 suns in the sky. Earth was burnt, and crops dried and people were dying. Hou Yi, an excellent anchor, went out and shot 9 suns down with his bow and arrows.
People were saved. To award his deed, the Queen Mother of the West gave Hou Yi a bottle of elixir, which will make him immortal. Hou Yi did not want to become immortal alone, so he gave it to his wife, Chang’e to keep it safe.
One day, Hou Yi went hunting. One of his students, Pang Meng, pretended to be ill and stayed at home. He went to Hou Yi’s house and tried to force Chang’e to give him the elixir. Unable to fight back, Chang’e drank the elixir. She flew up, higher and higher, until she landed on the moon.
When Hou Yi came home in the evening, he could not do anything. He moved a tabe under the moon and put lots of food on it, hoping Chang’e could come back to him.
This moon worshipping with lots of food became a tradition for mid autumn festival celebration.
How Chinese People Celebrate Mid Autumn Festival
Having Dinner with Family
Mid Autumn Festival is a family reunion time for Chinese people. Family members will get together, enjoy a big dinner. People who cannot go home will look at the full moon and think of their family members, asking the moon to send regards to their loved one back at home.
Appreciating the Moon
For Chinese people, the full moon is the symbol for family reunion. During the Mid Autumn festival, after the reunion dinner, family members sit in the yard or on the balcony, chatting in the moonlight and appreciating the moon together.
While appreciating the moon and enjoying the casual chat, people drink tea and eat fruit such as grapes(葡萄), pomelo(柚子), persimmon(柿子) and pear(梨子). On top of them, they also eat mooncake.
For people living far away from home, they look at the moon and think of their families and homeland. A poem which is often cited is
Dàn yuàn rén chángjiǔ, qiānlǐ gòng chánjuān
Wishing us a long life to share the graceful moonlight, though thousands of miles apart.
月饼 (yuèbǐng) , mooncake, is a must-have food for Mid Autumn Festival celebration. Because the shape of a mooncake is round, just like the shape of a full moon, it is a symbol of roundness, completeness and togetherness.
Although there are different flavors of mooncakes, the popular ones include red bean paste, lotus seed paste, five kernel and roast pork.
Here is a video showing how to make mooncake at home.
The lanterns can be in different shapes and colors, even resembling animals or flowers. People carry lanterns, hang them on trees or houses, float them in rivers, or even fly them into the sky (Kongming Lanterns). Usually people write good wishes on the lanterns and let them float away in water or fly them into the sky.
Mid Autumn Celebration One-Page Pocket Book For Kids
I’ve created a mini book about the major Mid Autumn Festival celebrations. You can download it for free below
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We also have a small learning material if you want to learn more about Mid Autumn Festival Chinese vocabulary.
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