TThe Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated by millions of people throughout East Asia on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar. This means that the date of the festival changes every year in the Gregorian calendar, but is always around the time of vintage moon. This year, the Mid-Autumn Festival falls on September 10.
Certain activities, such as moon gazing and lantern displays, are popular in several Asian countries – as is the moon rabbit symbol. But there are also many local traditions
Here is how the holiday is celebrated:
Glowing lanterns are seen on Lee Tung Street ahead of the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival on September 6, 2022 in Hong Kong, China.
Li Zhihua/China News Service via Getty Images
The legend of Chang’e and her ascension to the moon has long been associated with mid-autumn celebrations in China.
Mythology tells that in ancient times the Earth had 10 suns that burned the world. A famous archer named Hou Yi drew his bow and shot nine of the suns, saving humanity. For his heroic deed, the gods give him the pill of immortality, which he passes on to his wife Chanye for safekeeping. However, one of his followers, Peng Meng, tried to steal the pill while Hou Yi was hunting – so Chang’e swallowed it to prevent it from falling into Peng Meng’s hands. She became immortal and floated to the moon, where she has lived ever since. Besides Chang’e, the moon has another resident: the Jade rabbit.
In Chinese tradition, the full moon symbolizes family reunion, so mid-autumn is a holiday that should be celebrated at home. People admire the moon and eat moon cakeswhich come stuffed with a variety of fillings, from the traditional salted egg yolk and lotus paste to contemporary versions filled with ice cream, fruit and cream.
A staff member arranges moon cakes at a supermarket as the Mid-Autumn Festival approaches, September 5, 2022, Handan, Hebei Province, China.
VCG/VCG via Getty Images
Lanterns play an important role in the festivities. Paper lanterns lit by candles are rare these days. Most kids carry the battery-powered variety with them. Disposable glow sticks are also common, leading to appeals by environmentalists to limit their use.
Some regions have specific customs of the Moon Festival. In eastern China Zhujian province, the Qiantang River Tidal Channel attracts many visitors. in Hunan province, women from the Dong ethnic group routinely steal vegetables – because according to legend, the moon goddess will shower them with “sweet dew” and anyone who eats them will be healthy and happy.
South Koreans celebrate Chusokalso known as hangawi, at this time. It is one of the biggest and most important holidays in the country Seollalor lunar new year.
Many return to their hometowns to celebrate with large family gatherings and hold memorial services called charye, for their ancestors. The day before and after are also public holidays in South Korea, giving people time to travel home. This year Chuseok is celebrated from September 9 to 12.
South Koreans traveling for the Chuseok holiday are seen at Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea, on September 8, 2022.
SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images
At holiday gatherings, Koreans eat Songpyeon, a crescent-shaped rice cake filled with a semi-sweet filling, as well as seasonal fruits and vegetables such as persimmons and chestnuts. They also enjoy a host of pastimes including ganggangsullae, a traditional round dance. And of course, at night people go out to admire the full moon, where they look around for the moon rabbit, or daltokki. The creature is said to be seen on the lunar surface busy making rice cakes.
The Japanese are celebrating Tsukimi, which translates as “looking at the moon”. Like the Koreans, they try to spot the moon rabbit called tsuki no usagi in Japanese as the animal goes about its festive task of making the rice cakes known as pee.
The festivities are said to date back to Japan’s Nara period (710-794 AD). During the next Heian era (794-1185), Tsukimi was popular with aristocrats. Moon viewing parties, often held on boats, involved drinking, listening to music and composing poetry. By the Edo period (1603-1868), the tradition enjoyed a wide audience.
In this Sept. 19, 2013 file photo, a dancer in Osaka, Japan performs as part of the Sumiyoshi lunar ritual held every mid-autumn festival
Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images
traditionally Tsukimi is celebrated by decorating the home with pampas grass to represent a bountiful harvest. Holiday snacks include tsukimi-dango, a round rice dumpling symbolizing health and happiness, and seasonal products such as chestnuts and pumpkin. Eggs are also eaten because their oval whiteness is felt to be suggestive of a full moon. Even fast food brands are getting in on the act by adding eggs burgers.
The Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam is called Tet Trung Thu and is also known as Tet Thieu Nhior Children’s Festival.
A popular tale associated with the festival is that of a woodcutter named Chu Kuoi who flew a magic banana tree to the moon. It is said that Quoi can be seen under the tree on the face of the full moon. During the festival, children holding lanterns – said to help Kuoi return to earth – line the streets and watch lion dances.
Visitors pose for photos with the costumed Monkey King from Chinese mythology on September 26, 2020 in Hanoi, Vietnam. The Mid-Autumn Festival is an occasion for a children’s evening and a family gathering
Lin Pham/Getty Images
Brand families Tet Trung Thu by placing cakes and trays of fruit, symbolizing filial reverence, before the altars of the ancestors in their homes. Mooncakes are also a staple in Vietnam and come in two varieties: banh nuong (oven) and banh deo (soft-skinned).
some three quarters of Singaporeans are of Chinese origin, so many of the Mid-Autumn Festival customs and traditions from China are also observed in Singapore.
In the past, celebrations focused on Chinatown, with goldfish and star lanterns hanging from shops on Temple Street and Smith Street. Traditional bakeries offered mooncakes.
This Sept. 7, 2022 file photo shows Mid-Autumn Festival decorations installed in Singapore’s Chinatown.
Then Chih Wey/Xinhua via Getty Images
These days, Singaporeans celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival with extravagant lantern displays held across the city-state at places such as Gardens by the Bay. Festivities in Chinatown are also on a larger scale. The area becomes a bustling bazaar with pop-up stalls selling decorative ornaments and festive snacks. There are also lantern painting competitions and live performances.
Moon gazing is still a big part of the festival, with the beach a popular place for the activity.
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