The August Moon Festival or Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the most celebrated Chinese holidays. It is held on 15th day of 8th lunar month. Chinese families celebrate end of harvest season with a big feast. Unlike American Thanksgiving dinner, the Chinese eat moon-cakes instead of grandma’ apple pie. Friends and relatives also send moon-cakes to each other as a way of giving thanks.
According to Chinese legend, moon is brightest and roundest on August Moon Festival/Mid-Autumn Festival. Under this bright autumn moon, friendships are made and renewed. It is perfect for a romantic meeting. Over years, Chinese poets have described lost lovers guided to each other on this special night.
Mythology of Moon Festival is very unique for Asia. However, this Autumn Moon Festival is common with Thanksgiving. Traditionally, Moon Festival is celebrated on 15th day of 8th lunar month. This date is same as the Autumn Equinox of Western calendar. Since moon is fullest and brightest, it is ideal for celebrating abundance of summer’s harvest. Mid-Autumn Festival reminds many of the wisdom of mythical Moon Goddess, ‘Chang O’ [‘Chang E’]. Round moon-cakes are made of flaked pastry and baked for enjoying. Ornate lanterns are made and hung. Lovers are encouraged to emerge from homes to bask in the glow of full moon. The August Moon Festival is often called the Women’s Festival. The moon symbolises beauty and elegance. People in the West worship the sun [yang or male] for its power. Meanwhile, in the Far East, people admire the moon. This is because moon is the ‘yin’ [female] principle and it is a trusted friend.
There are many ancient August Moon folktales describing the moon maiden. On 15th night of 8th lunar moon children on earth can see a lady on moon. Hence, this is a magical occasion for children. They make wishes to the Lady on the moon hoping their dreams would come true.
Mid-Autumn festival is time for family and loved ones to gather. They enjoy the full moon, a symbol of abundance, harmony and good luck. Families enjoy picnics or special dinners. Adults generally pamper themselves in varieties of moon cakes with cup of piping hot Chinese tea. Along with the delicious moon cakes, children enjoy brightly lit lanterns, puppet shows, and lantern processions.