The Mid-Autumn Festival falls between August and September, on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. After the Chinese New Year, it is one of the most important festivals for the majority of Chinese people.
Still, not everyone knows how to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival properly. So, if you are looking for tips, this article should give you some pointers.
Mid-Autumn Festival Night Activities
The Mid-Autumn Festival is widely celebrated in various parts of the world. Most of the activities take place during the dark hours. Here is what you can do to make the most of it.
Light And Hang Colorful Lanterns
Lighting lanterns and hanging them up is a traditional custom of the Mid-Autumn Festival. It is said that the higher the traditional lanterns go, the better your luck will be.
People can usually find paper lanterns at many shops around the time of the Mid-Autumn Festival. There are standard lanterns, colourful lanterns - even custom lanterns.
Before they hang them outside, Chinese folk also write down fun or interesting lantern riddles. This custom is around 1500 years old, and many women and men would try to find their match by guessing what the riddle on the lantern lighting meant.
Admire the Full Moon
This public holiday celebrates the full moon - so obviously, you are supposed to admire it. Gazing at the moon is an ancient Mid-Autumn Festival tradition that dates back to the Zhou Dynasty.
In ancient times, Chinese people would hold ceremonies in order to welcome the full moon. Nowadays, people simply step outside and enjoy the moonlight.
Great places to enjoy the full moon would be in a high, open area, preferably near the water.
The Mid-Autumn Festival represents a deep connection to the Moon Goddess which is derived from the tale of Chang'e.
This is why the other name for it is the Moon Festival. Ancient Chinese people believed that the moon was responsible for every vital change, so they would put a worship table underneath the moon.
This is a slowly disappearing tradition, but some people still do this on Mid-Autumn day. They would be placing fruits and moon cakes on the table as a sacrifice, burning incense, and praying for good fortune.
Pray to the Moon
Ever since ancient times, Chinese people believed that the moon symbolizes unity. There is a tradition that says people who fall in love at the Mid-Autumn Festival would have a great marriage and live happily ever after.
It is believed that the moon would bless young couples praying to it. For instance, a married woman bathing under the moonlight of the full moon may pray for a baby boy in the near future.
Enjoy the Fire Dragon Dance
If you are at the Mid-Autumn Festival, then you have to see the dragon dances. This custom that takes place in the evening is very important to the Chinese people and is also possibly the most fabulous event of the festival.
During the Fire Dragon Dance, a team of professional dangers will carry long poles shaped like dragons. These poles are lit up, and the dance makes it seem like the dragon is weaving and swaying.
During the Mid-Autumn festival, people often try their best to make it home to their family members, regardless of how far away they may be from home.
Like Thanksgiving, this traditional festival encourages family gatherings where they can sit back, and enjoy a nice meal while gazing at the moon.
Enjoy Eating Mooncakes
The Mid-Autumn Festival is also commonly referred to as the Mooncake Festival. These moon cakes usually have a round shape, symbolizing the moon.
They can be traced all the way to the ancient Chinese emperors of the Southern Song Dynasty. They were a symbol of long life for the emperor and a tool that allowed them to get their country back from the Mongols.
Moon cakes are small cakes with various fillings and sweet stuffing. They may feature salted duck eggs, seasonal fruit, lotus seeds paste, and occasionally durian mooncake. They are common in Chinese bakeries and very popular among Chinese people.
Go On Short Trips to Neighboring Areas
The Mid-Autumn Festival traditionally falls between late September and early October, making it a good opportunity to comfortably visit around. It's not too hot, nor too cold, so you can celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival by exploring as much of the culture as possible.
Drink Some Tea
The Moon Festival is not really complete without a nice cup of delicious Chinese tea to go along with your mooncakes. This specific type of tea goes very well with mooncakes, and it's a tradition to get a cup along with the tasty food.
Moreover, as the weather starts getting chilly at this point of the year, it will also warm you up. If you are not a fan of tea, you can always try going for a cup of osmanthus-flavoured wine.
Here's an interesting article on how to go about pairing your mooncake with the right tea or wine.
Learn About the Chinese Culture
While enjoying the Mid-Autumn Festival, you should also learn as much as you can about the Chinese people and the Chinese culture. This festival is one that celebrates the harvest season and is a good opportunity for a family reunion, but it's also more than that.
Sit on the grass under the moon and listen to the locals tell one Mid-Autumn Festival story after another. The stories vary from stories of the gods to stories about how the Chinese folk won their country back from the Mongols.
Offer Mid-Autumn Festival Gifts
Besides spending time with their families, people also celebrate the Mid-Autumn festival by visiting relatives nearby and giving them gifts. This can be anything from mooncakes to ducks and fruits, a tradition that has been passed down through ancient times.
In today's fast-paced world, the younger generation also gives gifts in digital ways. This includes gift cards to online shops, or moon cake delivery. That being said, it is much more appreciated if you show up yourself.
The Bottom Line
The Mid-Autumn Festival is definitely a place where you can relax and have a good time. You can spend your time revering the moon, eating delicious mooncakes, and enjoying the evening fire dances, among many other things. It is a special holiday where you can reconnect with your loved ones.