by Lin Shao, contributing writer
People around the world look forward to the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival—one of the biggest celebrations in the lunar calendar. But how do you mark this special occasion? A look back at tradition gives us some tips!
Which mooncake flavor takes your fancy? Slices of these sweet delicacies are a must-have for any Mid-Autumn celebration. They are best shared among family and friends and paired with a digestive Chinese tea. New and exotic flavor combinations can be expected each year (“durian snowskin” or “oolong tea truffle” anyone?), but the traditional fillings remain staples. Wrapped in a thin wheat pastry, these fillings include sweet red bean and sesame or lotus paste with a glorious golden center of salted duck egg yolk symbolizing the moon. Traditionally, these would have been homemade, with all family members gathered around the table and getting involved.
Home Is Where the Heart Is
Mid-Autumn is a time for gratitude and appreciation, and an important time for families. This sentiment hasn’t changed since the day began to be celebrated as a national festival during the Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127). Family members come from far and wide to be together, so it’s customary to make sure the home is spotless and as welcoming as possible. Usually mothers spend the day preparing for a delicious and nutritious evening feast. Nowadays, many busy families choose to enjoy a meal out together at a local restaurant.
The Art of Moon Gazing
Moon worship began over 3,000 years ago. In more recent centuries, each family sets out a table in its courtyard adorned with mooncakes; seasonal fruit such as watermelon, pomegranate, and grapefuit; and incense and candles, all facing toward the moon. This custom is rarely seen nowadays, but during this festive time you will find fellow moon gazers out in open fields, climbing a hill or relaxing by a lake to get a good view. Sitting outside under the bright moonlight, families pay their respects to the moon and express their hopes for a better life.
Lanterns with Designs and Messages
No decoration could be more quintessential than row after row of glowing lanterns hanging outside. In the hubbub of song and dance, children love to decorate their paper lanterns with designs resembling plants, flowers, and animals. It’s also popular to see people at the water’s edge, attaching hand-written messages inside lanterns to float away, or releasing their lanterns to fly up into the night sky.
How do you like to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival? Share with us in the comments section below.