Mid-Autumn Fest has got to be one of my favourite Chinese celebrations! Family time? Yaaas.
Yummy food? Yaaas. Fun traditions that bring back all the nostalgic feels? Yaaaaaas!!
For as long as I can remember, my family has celebrated Mid-Autumn Festival. Mom would always make sure that there is sufficient mooncake to go around, lanterns for us to play with, and it is a requirement to be together on this day.
What is Mid-Autumn Festival?
This celebration has a long history dating back to the Yang dynasty in China - and is based on a famous folklore. Every year, It falls on the 15th day of the eighth month in the lunar calendar. In the solar calendar, this day usually revolves around Sept/Oct.
According to the infamous myth, a Chinese archer by the name of Hou Yi shot down 9 out of 10 suns to protect the world from being burned. For his bravery, he was given an elixir from heaven. His wife, Chang'e, drank the elixir in order to protect it from landing into the wrong hands. But the elixir made her so light that she floated to the moon and was trapped there forever. Hou Yi missed his wife so much that he would prepare a feast every year on the day when the moon was at its fullest - which is on the 15th day of the eighth month - to briefly see her up in the sky.
As a tradition, emperors celebrate the year's harvest by offering gifts to the moon goddess, Chang'e, and host a delicious feast. For the commoners, it is a very important family gathering where it's believed that the people and the moon reunite to form a full circle - this tradition signifies reunion. There is also a huge feast to celebrate harvest - kind of like Thanksgiving!
What do you do during this celebration?
Families gather together and share good food, light lanterns and appreciate the full moon. It is a "moon appreciation" night where families will have "shang yue/seung yoot" gatherings to admire the moon when it is at it's brightest and roundest. In our household, it is also customary to pour tea and offering it to our elders. And of course, we can't forget the mooncake, it is equivalent to having turkey during Thanksgiving! This super dense pastry is cut into pieces and shared with the family. It is usually made with lotus paste and has a salted egg yolk in the centre. It. Is. So. Good. Some other flavours are custard, nuts, red beans, and even ice cream!
That's Mid-Autumn Festival in a nutshell! I hope you learned something new. :)