Honouring An Ancient Tradition With Mooncakes Among Friends And Family
Celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival – 中秋节
With the long hot summers slowly coming to an end, autumn begins to show its face, bringing cooling winds and rainy days to prepare us all for the upcoming winter. In the Western world autumn is manifested by nature turning brown, by flowers slowly losing their colour, and by seeing trees dropping their last remaining leaves.
In China, autumn is associated with the ancient custom of celebrating the moon. A tradition stemming from the old beliefs that the moon brought prosperity and influenced the ever so important harvest, thus leaving the Chinese population to create a festival dedicated to expressing their gratitude towards the moon by performing sacrificial ceremonies. The festival is still one of the biggest holidays in the Chinese calendar, celebrated in great style all over the country.
A child eating monster, fireworks and the colour red
Following the Lunar calendar, the Mid-Autumn Festival is held on the 15th day of the 8th month, corresponding to late September to early October. The celebration goes all the way back to 1500 years BC.
Originating from the tradition of celebrating a successful harvest, moon worship was an important part of the festival, and to this day the moon still has an important role in Chinese culture, representing harmony and unity.
The festival consist of three fundamentals concepts:
- The gathering of family. Close and afar family members come together.
- To give thanks for life and its blessings.
- Asking for conceptual or material satisfaction, such as a spouse, a newborn or for long health.
Tale as old as time
The Chinese holidays all origin from old adventurous tales, usually brought down from generation to generation. The Chinese New Year was originally a festival held to keep child-eating monster “Nian” away, by firing off firecrackers and decorating their houses in red.
The Mid-Autumn festival has just as an exiting backstory as the Chinese New Year, revolving around Hou Yi, a man that literally shot down suns with a bow and arrow, and Chang’e, his beautiful wife.
A change in time
But times have changed, and China is no longer dependent of a prosper harvest season, and with modern times having its influence, traditions, and customs have gone through a change as well. The mid-autumn festival still brings family members afar together by celebrating a holiday among loved ones by eating dinner and doing traditional activities. Among them are eating moon cakes, setting up colourful lanterns, or going out to enjoy the many joyful activities the festival offers.
In today’s fast developing society, traditional customs have been replaced by new celebrations, especially by the younger generation. They have found their own way of using the holiday by celebrating the festival with your friends, online and in person. The younger Chinese generation tends to spend time with their family by enjoying traditionally cooked meals, and participating in activities.
But when the older family members go to rest, the Chinese youth use the holidays to celebrate and spend time together with their friends.
All gather for the celebration
The autumn festival brings out the best in each city, celebrations are huge and people flock to see beautiful firework shows, traditional dragon dancing and colourful lanterns slowly ascending to the sky.
People tend to celebrate the holidays in their own way, traditions handed down by generations usually determines how each family choses to spend their time off. But it all revolves around spending time with family and loved ones, often celebrated with traditional Chinese cuisine. Some use the time off to simply relax, others spend their time roaming through the city, participating in activities or going for scenic walks, enjoying the colder weather along with the beautiful moon shine.
Happy Mid-autumn festival
“Zhōngqiū kuàilè! (中秋快乐!)“
When walking around in China during the festival you’re ensured to come across some of these key phrases. Practice these and use them for when you’re doing your daily grocery shopping or wishing your teacher a happy holiday.
See below for some of the most used phrases used under the Mid-autumn festival.
Enjoy your holiday
Whether you’ve decided to beat the masses and booked your train ticket, or decided to spend your time among family and friends. The mid-autumn festival is a great opportunity to experience a traditional Chinese holiday while abroad, with all its perks and quirks.
So get out there and enjoy yourself, eat a ton of moon cake, go for a scenic walk, or spend the evening among loved ones. If you’re interested in knowing more about the Chinese national holidays, read our blog posts about “Golden Week”, or the “National day of peoples republic”.