Many people remember Halloween during the autumn season, but what about the Mid Autumn Festival? Learn more about how to celebrate it in this guide!
If you love Halloween, you’re probably always looking for reasons to celebrate. But did you know there are actually tons of other holidays in the month of October?
While most of them aren’t things you’re probably interested in celebrating, like “Frugal Fun Day,” there are some more exciting ones in there. Especially the Mid Autumn Festival.
So add some delight to the middle of your October with a happy Mid Autumn festival!
What Is the Mid Autumn Festival?
The Mid-Autumn Festival is primarily celebrated in Asia in mid autumn. There are several traditions surrounding this holiday, from special foods to fun activities. In China, it’s generally considered the second most important holiday after Chinese New Year.
There are many other names for the holiday. The most common are the Moon Festival, or the Mooncake Festival. It’s intended to celebrate the end of the autumn harvest season.
We’ve all been stressed and cooped up inside from the pandemic. Why not join in on the fun this year?
When Is the Mid Autumn Festival?
As the name would indicate the Mid Autumn Festival takes place in mid autumn. The date changes every year according to the lunar calendar. The 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese lunar calendar, to be specific.
This means the date typically falls from mid-September to early October. In 2021 the holiday will be celebrated on Tuesday, September 21st.
Who Celebrates the Mid Autumn Festival?
As mentioned earlier, the Mid Autumn Festival is primarily celebrated in Asia. The main countries that observe this holiday are Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
If you’re planning on visiting any of these countries, it would be a great addition to your vacation to time it to the Mid Autumn Festival!
If you are headed to Asia, consider Japan. Not only is it an amazing country, but it also has the biggest city on earth. Check out our guide to the top things to do in Tokyo, Japan.
The History of Mid Autumn Festival
Coming from countries with long and storied histories, it’s not surprising this holiday is very old and steeped in tradition. It is estimated that the Mid Autumn Festival goes back at least 3,000 years. In comparison, Halloween is “only” estimated to be about 2,000 years old.
It seems the festival grew in popularity during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE). The festival centered around moon worship as a symbol of rejuvenation. As such, the holiday is celebrated at the time when the moon is at its fullest.
How Do I Celebrate the Mid Autumn Festival?
While the holiday keeps many of its origins of moon worship in mind, it has expanded with the modern mentality. Today, it is similar to Thanksgiving in North America, and Chuseok in Korea. It is a time for families to come together to make and eat special foods and do things together.
Mid Autumn Festival Foods
Yes, this is the holiday the famous mooncakes are from! Mooncakes are typically seen as smallish, flat, and round cakes that are highly decorative. They are filled with many different flavors that can be sweet or savory.
These mooncakes represent togetherness, similar to how it is a family-based holiday. The casing is usually made of flour, golden syrup, lye water, cooking oil, and finished off with an egg wash to make them golden. A filling example could be made of pureed lotus seed, salted egg yolks, and a traditional rose-flavored cooking wine.
There are many other types of filings, from red bean to minced pork. Either way, they’re delicious!
Of course, you eat more than just mooncakes, they are simply the most iconic food. Other popular things to eat are autumnal crops like pumpkin and taro. Duck, river snails, and hairy crab are popular dishes as well.
Mid Autumn Festival Activities
One of the biggest activities is eating a large meal full of the foods we just talked about, similar to Thanksgiving. Typically, the mooncakes are shared amongst each other which harkens back to a traditional story.
It is said that during the Yuan dynasty Chinese people used mooncakes to pass secret messages to each other. It was through these messages that they were able to coordinate and overthrow the Mongol rulers who had invaded and overtaken China.
There are other common activities such as offering the moon gifts and some still worship the moon. This is done by moving the table outside with mooncakes, incense, and candles facing the moon. Unfortunately, due to how many people live in cities now, this tradition is dying out.
Lanterns are also typically displayed, often very colorful and made by the children of the family. They use many different shapes and display the lanterns by hanging them in trees, or on houses, or floating them down a river.
Gift-giving is another popular tradition that almost feels similar to Halloween trick or treating. Friends and family will make quick visits to each others’ houses. They hand out gifts and leave before dinner time.
Recently, this tradition has been expanding. Since the Mid Autumn Festival takes place during at least three-day weekend most years, people have time to visit friends and relatives further away. When people don’t live near each other, they will usually send a nice greeting via text or a phone call.
What Other Holidays Should I Know About?
Now that you’re ready for the Mid Autumn Festival 2021, how about learning some other holidays? There’s a whole world out there full of fun things to celebrate.
It’s especially fun to use learning about a holiday as an excuse to try some new recipes! For your next holiday, check out what people eat during Ramadan!