Mid-Autumn Festival 中秋节 falls on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Lunar Calendar and this year it falls on the September 15th. It is the second grandest festival after the Spring Festival in China. People in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan enjoy a day off. The 15th Day of the 8th month of the Lunar Calendar is also a major festival in Korea and Vietnam. In Singapore, Mid-Autumn Festival is also known as Lantern Festival.
My Lunar Birthday
Mid-Autumn Festival is a significant day to me as my Lunar Birthday falls on this day. Though there is no day off in Singapore, as an ethnic Chinese family, we too celebrate the festival. The day I was born, my siblings did not get to celebrate the festival as my mother was in the hospital and my dad was there with her. I always look forward to Mid-Autumn Festival as it is a double celebration for me. 🙂
So what is the significance of Mid-Autumn Festival? Mid-Autumn Festival is a custom of moon sacrificial ceremonies, expressing thanks to the moon for the good harvest . The ancient Chinese observed that the movement of the moon had a close relationship with changes of the seasons and agricultural production. To express their thanks to the moon and celebrate the harvest, they offered sacrifice to the moon on autumn days. For more details, check out the China Travel Guide Site
A Chinese folklore about Chang’E, the Moon Goddess of Immortality, explains the origin of the moon worship on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Lunar Calendar. There are a few versions; sharing with you the romantic version that I extracted from the Wikipedia.
“In the ancient past, there was a hero named Hou Yi who was excellent at archery. His wife was Chang’E. One year, the ten suns rose in the sky together, causing great disaster to people. Yi shot down nine of the suns and left only one to provide light.
An immortal admired Yi and sent him the elixir of immortality. Yi did not want to leave Chang’E and be immortal without her, so he let Chang’E keep the elixir. But Peng Meng, one of his apprentices, knew this secret. So, on the fifteenth day of the eighth month in the lunar calendar, when Yi went hunting, Peng Meng broke into Yi’s house and forced Chang’E to give the elixir to him. Chang’E refused to do so. Instead, she swallowed it and flew into the sky. Chang’E loved her husband and hoped to live nearby, so she chose the moon for her residence. When Yi came back and learnt what had happened, he felt sad and displayed the fruits and cakes that Chang’E liked at the yard and gave sacrifices to his wife. People soon learnt about what happened, they also participated in these sacrifices with Yi on every lunar fifteenth day of the eighth month to commemorate Chang’E.”
There are other well-known legends that include Jade Rabbit, Wu Gang chopping the laurel tree, and Zhu Yuanzhang and the moon cake uprising.
Feature picture and pictures above are taken by me at the 2016 Mid-Autumn Festival Celebration at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore. The celebration is from 3 to 18 September.
The Moon Cake is the special food of Mid-Autumn Festival, people sacrifice moon cakes to the moon as an offering and also eat them for celebration. Nowadays, moon cakes come in many different flavours, besides the traditional moon cakes that are made of lotus bean, there are moon cakes made of ice-cream. Personally I prefer the traditional moon cakes.
Besides having moon cakes with Chinese tea while observing the bright full moon as a family, it is also a tradition to present moon cakes to relatives, friends and clients as a demonstration of appreciation and well wishes.
Another tradition is carrying brightly lit lanterns on the Mid-Autumn Festival evening. I prefer the traditional lanterns that are lit using candles whereas the modern lanterns come with light bulb and battery operated. Lighting the traditional lantern is more fun as this is the only time children are allowed to “play with fire”. 🙂
Check out the following video on a 88-year old retiree in Singapore who made the traditional lanterns from scratch for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren for the past 30 years.
Thank you for dropping by, wishing you a lovely Mid-Autumn Festival.
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