As one of the most important traditional Chinese festivals, Mid-Autumn Festival, falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, Sept 24 this year. This day is also considered as a harvest festival since fruits, vegetables and grain are harvested by this time.
Here are the things you should know about this special occasion, perhaps they could be a guide to what you can do on this day.
Mid-Autumn Festival's legend concerns Houyi, an archer, who saved the earth by shooting down nine of the suns. He became a tyrant and stole an elixir from a goddess, but his beautiful wife, Change'e, drank it to save the people from her husband's forever tyrannical rule.
After drinking it, she found herself floating, grabbed a rabbit to keep her company and then flew to the moon. When the local people heard this, they arranged incense tables to worship the goddess Chang'e, praying for happiness and safety. Since then, worshipping and appreciating the moon during Mid-Autumn festival has become popular.
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.
It was not until the early Tang Dynasty (618-907) that the day was officially celebrated as a traditional festival. It became an established festival during the Song Dynasty (960-1279), and has become as popular as the Spring Festival since the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. Celebrations have continued ever since and more customs for marking this occasion have developed.
Eating mooncakes while watching the full moon is an important part of the Mid-Autumn Festival in China, and is more like a symbol of family unity. At the very beginning, moon cakes were served as a sacrifice to the Moon. The word "moon cake" first appeared in the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279). Nowadays, moon cakes are given as presents to loved ones and it represents people's wishes to be together during the mid-autumn festival.
Apart from the above, there are a variety of celebrations around China.