The Mid-Autumn Festival
is one of the most important festivities in China,
According to Chinese lunar calendar, the 15th day of the 8th month is the exact
midst of autumn, so it's called the Mid-Autumn Festival. The Mid-Autumn Festival
is an evening celebration when families gather together to light lanterns, eat
moon cakes and appreciate the round moon. On that night, the moon appears to be
at its roundest and brightest. The full moon is a symbol for family reunion,
which is why that day is also known as the Festival of Reunion.
The Mid-Autumn Festival
celebrations date back to more than 2,000 years ago. In feudal times, Chinese
emperors prayed to Heaven for a prosperous year. They chose the morning of the
15th day of the second lunar month to worship the sun and the night of the 15th
day of the eighth lunar month to hold a ceremony in praise of the moon. In the
western district of Beijing is the Yuetan
Park, which originally was the Temple of
Moon, and every year the emperor would go there to offer a
sacrifice to the moon.
This ancient custom
became prevalent in the Tang Dynasty (618-907) that people enjoyed and
worshipped the full moon. In the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), however,
people sent round moon cakes to their relatives as gifts in expression of their
best wishes of family reunion. When it turned dark, they gazed up at the full
silver moon or went sightseeing by lakes, to celebrate the festival.
Since the Ming
(1368-1644) and Qing dynasties (1644-1911), the custom of Mid-Autumn Festival
celebration has become unprecedentedly popular. Together with the celebration
appeared some special customs in different parts of the country, such as burning
incense, planting Mid-Autumn trees, lighting lanterns on towers and fire dragon
dances, etc. Whenever the festival sets in, people would look up at the full
silver moon, drinking wine to celebrate their happy life, or thinking of their
relatives and friends far from home and extending all of their best wishes to
farmers have just finished gathering their crops and bringing in fruits from
the orchards. They are overwhelmed with joy when they have a bumper harvest and
at the same time, they feel quite relaxed after a year of hard work. So the
15th day of the eighth lunar month (the Mid-Autumn Festival) has gradually evolved
as a widely celebrated festival for ordinary people.
Night falls. The land
is bathed in silver moonlight. Families set up tables in their courtyards or sit
together on their balconies, chatting and sharing offerings to the moon.
Together, they enjoy the enchanting spell of night. Naturally, they are reminded
of beautiful legends about the moon.