Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon Festival takes place on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. Chinese people believe that on that day, the moon is the biggest, roundest and brightest. And the term round implies family reunion in Chinese. So the Moon Festival is a festival for members of a family to get together wherever it is possible. Sons and daughters will bring their family members back to their parents’ house, typically having dinner together, for a reunion.
The festival dates back to the Tang dynasty 618 A.D. As with many Chinese celebrations, there are ancient legends associated with the festival. [see Mid-Autumn Festival Legends]
What to do?
Before the moon festival, we have to give gifts to our relatives. Oh yes, you are required to give gifts to your relatives in most of the major Chinese festivals, like Chinese New Year, Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, You have to give at least one box of moon cakes to your relatives (per family). If you have lots of brothers, sisters, uncles, in-laws and relatives, it will add up a lot. Also, the more egg yolk the more presentable as a gift and the more expensive it is. Besides mooncake, you can/should even give other food items like Chinese preserved meat sausages and season fruit like star fruit. Pocket money for the senior relatives to buy something they like if they are very close to you. If you have children, you have to buy them paper moon lanterns. (seelanterns )
On the 14 of lunar August, one day before the moon festival evening, we call this evening the “Moon Welcoming”. The moon has almost reached it’s roundest and fullest shape. You may start to walk about on the streets with your lantern.
On the 15 of lunar August, the moon festival, the moon is in the best shape this night. Families will get together to have dinner for a reunion. Problem arise if you are married. Which parents should the couple have dinner with on this night? Maybe it depends whether the husband or wife is more subservient or easy-going. <GRIN> Or one can simply have dinner with one parents-in-law on the Saturday before the festival and Sunday for another parents-in-law and not to see them on the festival day. In this case, no one will be upset.
ok.. after we have sorted out the gifts and dinner arrangement, we can enjoy the festival at last. You can either stay at home sitting by the balcony or you can go on to the streets with your lanterns. It’s also an excuse for children to play with candles. “Wax-boiling” in an empty moon-cake tin is one favourite activity though it leaves a big mess on the street and the beach! 🙁
On the 16 of lunar August, the day after moon festival, people still go on the street or beaches to admire the moon. We called it “Moon chasing”.
After the festival,
the cleaning crew have to clean the streets and beaches.
Moon cakes are much cheaper now and one may start their new moon-cake installment plan
go on diet if you have put on too much weight after eating all those moon cakes!
Colourful lanterns are on sale in a range of shops, but for the biggest selection of traditional designs don’t go to a toy shop but instead visit one of those shops which sells traditional Taoist worship and offerings. Most residential areas have at least one, but the biggest collection is on Queens Road West in Central Hong Kong.
People often go to the beach to enjoy the full moon, the lanterns and the cool weather.
During the festival everybody buys, gives, eats and finally gets tired of moon cakes. For details of them read the Moon Cakes page.
Details of Mid Autumn Festival lanterns here.
Fire Dragon Dance
Fire dragon dances are introduced recently to celebrate the festival. See details here.