How to Celebrate Chinese Moon Festival

How to Celebrate Chinese Moon Festival With These Exotic Customs

Whether linked to the seas or romance and love, the Moon is an important part of our lives, and the Chinese surely know this. They celebrate the traditional Moon festival every year with great aplomb and tradition. Read on to know how to celebrate Chinese moon festival.
CelebrationJoy Staff
Last Updated: Mar 8, 2018
Call it the moon festival, the mid-autumn festival, or the lantern festival, this celebration that takes places on the fifteenth day of the eight lunar month is all about light, tradition, color, and food. It normally occurs on any day between mid-September and mid-October. So, what exactly is this festival that the Chinese people celebrate every year? This festival more often than not coincides with the date of the autumn equinox and is the day when the moon is the furthest from the earth, appearing bright and round.

The Legend

As legend goes, the festival revolves around Chang'e and Hou-yi, who was a divine archer. Hou-yi had managed to shoot down nine of the ten Suns that were problematic for the Earth. The Goddess Xiwangmu as a reward gave Hou-yi the herb of immortality, which his wife Chang'e found and consumed. When she realized her folly, not wanting to face her husband's wrath, she fled to the moon to cough up the herb, which was turned into the Jade Rabbit.

Till today, you will see children looking for the Jade Rabbit on the moon's surface on the day of this festival. The festival is full of colorful lanterns made of paper with motifs of rabbits, phoenix, fish, and other auspicious animals. It has been celebrated for many centuries to thank the Gods for food and harvest, and is also called the Harvest Festival for the same reason.

How the Chinese Celebrate It

The festival is celebrated by following some traditions that have been prominent since the first century. Fruits and vegetables are put up on an altar in courtyards. Some of the more prominent fruits are pears, apples, peaches, grapes, pomelos, pomegranates, and melons. Some typical traditional foods, like moon cakes, cooked taro, edible snails, and water caltrop are must in every house celebrating this festival.

These moon cakes look like small fruitcakes of the West. They are made of various things like melon seeds, lotus seeds, almonds, or orange peels. Some moon cakes are made with minced meats or bean paste. Each moon cake is then decorated with a golden yolk from a salted duck egg placed in the center. Symbols of the festival, like rabbits or phoenix motifs, are used to decorate the crusts of the cakes. These cakes are then placed in a certain manner. Thirteen moon cakes are placed in the shape of a pyramid on a table, which signifies a complete year with 12 moons and one intercalary moon.

Customs

The Chinese celebrate a lot of festivals, but one of the biggest other than the Chinese Lunar New Year is the Moon festival. On this day, people not only gather together but they also have certain customs that give this festival a traditional feel.

One of the most important things for them to do is eat moon cakes under the moon. They also put pomelo rinds on their heads and carry bright lanterns. No Chinese tradition is complete without burning incense, so incense sticks are burned and respect is given to the deity of Chang'e.

Since it is also the Harvest festival, some farmers celebrate it by planting mid-autumn trees. Dandelion leaves are collected and distributed among family members. And let's not forget the colorful fire dragon dances on streets.

What better way to celebrate a festival than with color and food, and if you want to learn to celebrate the Chinese way, find your way to a Chinese family on the Moon festival.
Moon cakes
Edible snails
Chinese Moon Festival Lantern
Moon festival