Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Mid Autumn Moon Festival

The Mid Autumn Festival is also known as the Moon festival and the Mooncake festival. One of the most popular Chinese celebrations of the year, it occurs on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, which falls sometime in September or October. This year, it occurs on the 19th of September.

Can you see the lady on the moon?
Photo Credit: Mauro
The festival coincides with the end of the harvest of wheat and rice. It is held when the full moon looks bigger, brighter and closer to earth than at any other time of the year.

If you have a deep buried wish, tell it to the moon lady - she loves to grant secret wishes.
The Moon Goddess Chang-E
Image Source: Wikipedia
The moon is honored, and the moon goddess, or moon fairy, Chang-E, is revered. Legend has it that Chang-E was chased onto the moon after taking her husband's hard earned pill of immortality, thousands of years ago. She has been living on the moon since with the Jade Rabbit. Her husband, Hou Yi (of The Legend of the Ten Suns) lives on the sun, and once a month, during the full moon, he may visit her and they are reunited. You can read one of the many versions of this legend here or watch the story in this video. We also have a book roundup that reviews two books that include the legend.

Can you see the moon lady or the Jade rabbit on the moon?

To some, the Mid-Autumn festival is know as the mooncake festival, for the treats, mooncakes, eaten during the festival. Mooncakes, often round to represent the moon, are made with various designs and fillings. They are given as gifts, and shared with family, friends and colleagues. 
Photo Credit: Wee Keat Chin
The Mid-Autumn festival is celebrated as a family reunion. Families gather for dinner, sometimes as an outdoor picnic, and enjoy mooncakes and tea. After dinner, it is time to go outside to gaze at the moon, whether in your yard or a nearby park. The moon festival is often celebrated by reciting poetry, and telling stories of the moon goddess.
Photo Credit: Duc
Candles and joss sticks are lit, and children play and parade around with lanterns hanging from sticks. In the towns and cities, shadow puppet plays and operas about Chang-E are performed and enjoyed. Some families put out round fruits as an offering to the moon goddess, such as pomelos, persimmons, pomegranate, grapes, and peaches (which represent long life and happiness).

Photo Credit: Choo Yut Shing
Friends and family also exchange pomelos, a seasonal fruit, as the word for pomelo is you and sounds like the word for "protection". They are exchanged as an expression of hope that the moon will protect the family. Children often play with pomelo peels, wearing them on their heads as a hat.

This week, we'll be preparing for the moon festival by reading books, tasting mooncakes and learning how they are made, making lanterns to hang on sticks, reading and writing poetry about the moon, and honoring the moon on the 19th with tea, mooncakes, and pomelos. 

Does the moon hold a special place in your life?


  1. We are celebrating Moon festival too. I am not brave enough to make real mooncakes - I am going to get some from Chinese bakery for our tea ceremony :)

    1. I toyed with the idea of trying to make mooncakes, but the ones at the store were so lovely, that we bought some instead as well :)
      I hope you and smarty pants enjoy celebrating the moon festival!


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