Moon Festival, also known as Mid-Autumn Festival, falls on the 15th day in the eighth month of the lunar calendar. It’s one of the most important days in Chinese culture.
The origin of the Moon Festival
According to some specialists, the Moon Festival was to celebrate the harvest in autumn. The tradition for celebrating the Moon Festival can be traced back to the Chou dynasty around 1000 BC. In the Tang dynasty, it was a day when the emperors had feasts with their chancellors. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, it had become a national holiday for family reunions in China.
Moon Festival in Different Countries
Moon Festival is not a patent for Chinese. It’s a common custom in the East-Asian cultural sphere. Koreans take Moon Festival as their Thanksgiving Day. They go tomb sweeping and worship their ancestors with new harvested crops and fruit. Japanese call Moon Festival “the 15th Night”. While the Chinese have moon cakes, the Japanese have sticky rice balls on the day. In Vietnam, Moon Festival is a day for children. The kids can have a parade with lanterns on their hands, make toys, and do the lion dance.
What Taiwanese do on Moon Festival?
While appreciating the bright full moon on the sky, it’s also important to enjoy the moon-shaped cake in your mouth.
In Taiwan, we have a special custom to have barbecues at the Moon Festival. The custom has been popular since the 1980s and it is said to have something to do with a soy sauce ad. Read more: Moon Festival in Taiwan-BBQ Time!
Autumn is also the season for harvesting pomelos. It’s good to get some fiber supply after a meat-full barbecue feast.
For Taiwanese, the meaning of the Moon Festival is not limited to BBQs. It’s time for people to have family tours. (Due to the Taiwanese mechanism, people can a 3~4 days holiday.)
Legends of the Moon Festival
Besides the story of Chang’e who becomes the lonely fairy on the moon, there are some other interesting legends of the day.
Wu Gan, the Laurel Logger
It was said that Wu Gan’s wife was having affair with the son of the Sun God, Bering. Wu Gan killed Bering in a blaze of rage. To punish Wu Gan, the Sun God Exile him to the moon and command him to cut down the immortal laurel. No matter how hard he tried to cut the tree, the tree can be self-healed immediately. Wu Gan’s wife felt so guilty so she changed her son into a toad, a snake, and a rabbit to be their father’s company.
Moon cake and the revolution
When China was under Mongolian’s control, the people planned to wage a revolution to free themselves from tyranny. They send secret messages through the note in the moon cake and eventually overthrown the Mongolian regime.