How Was Your Chinese Moon Festival This Year?
Mid- Autumn Moon Festivals are celebrated all over Asia on the 15th day of the 8th month in the Han Calendar. In 2016, the Moon Festival was celebrated on the Gregorian, or solar, calendar on September 15th. Because the date is based on the lunar calendar, it falls on the full moon of the Autumnal Equinox annually. This means the festival can occur any night between September 8th and October 7th in accord with Gregorian calendar.
The Moon Festival is basically a harvest celebration. The Chinese have been honoring the full, harvest moon since the Shang Dynasty, c.1600-1046 BCE. There are many traditions and myths surrounding the Moon Festival, however, there are three specific concepts this festival reflects:
- Family and community gathering to harvest rice, wheat, and other crops. The bright light from the full moon means people can enjoy an outdoor meal together and in the evening enjoy gazing at the moon.
- Thanksgiving for the bountiful harvest and harmonious relationships and reunions.
- Prayer for good fortune, wellbeing, longevity, and fertility.
Today, there are communal and family festivities that include social gatherings, eating sweet mooncakes, and watching the moon. The moon is a symbol of harmony and unity in the Chinese culture. The communal festivals have parades and performances of Dragon and Lion Dances along with burning incense.
As the years have gone on the agrarian nature of the Mid-Autumn Festival has shifted to be somewhat commercial. Lanterns are sold as decorations and are said to symbolize fertility. Mooncakes have become big business for bakeries. There’s “reunion wine” especially made for the Moon Festival.
If you missed your opportunity to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival this year, watch for it next year. See if you like mooncakes, some people think they are an acquired taste, but you might like them. Gather your friends and family to enjoy a harvest meal together and drink reunion wine while gazing at the moon.
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