14 Reasons Why Moon Festival Is A Big Deal In Asia

It’s about the food, love, and fables!

If you looked up at the night sky this past weekend, you probably saw the moon round, stunningly silver and luminously bright. On August 15th of the Lunar Calendar every year, folks in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam, and South Korea celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival. Also referred to as the Moon Festival in Mandarin-speaking cultures, this is a special time that poetically combines Asian history, astrology and fables.

If you happen to be in Asia now, munching on a leftover red been moon cake; you’ve been plausibly wondering why Moon Festival was such a big deal! Here are 14 reasons why.

1. It’s been around since the Shang Dynasty 商朝.

Experts studying Chinese culture believe that Mid-Autumn Festival first started by worshipping Mountain Gods after each harvest during 1600–1046 BCE.

2. But the fest REALLY started trending during the Tang Dynasty 唐朝 with formal celebrations.

Emperor Xuanzong of Tang 唐玄宗 was the one who held formal celebrations of the Moon Festival, which ignited the rest of the country to follow suit.

3. The first time “mid-autumn 中秋” appeared as a legit terminology was in “Rites of Zhou” 周禮.

During Zhou Dynasty 周朝 (1046–771 BCE), the words “mid-autumn 中秋” was first seen in a collection of bureaucracy and organizational theory during the dynasty.

4. Empress Dowager Cixi 慈禧太后 was a big fan of Mid-Autumn Festival.

During the late 19th-century, one of the most famous empresses in Chinese history, Dowager Cixi, adored Mid-Autumn Festival so much that she spent every August 13th and 17th hosting labyrinth of rituals.

5. Ancient Chinese believe the moon is connected to a woman’s menstrual cycle.

Back in the day, Chinese called a woman’s menstruation cycle “monthly water”, believing that the Earth’s only permanent natural satellite symbolizes rejuvenation.

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今人不见古时月,今月曾经照古人。

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6. The Zhuang people 壮族 believe the sun and moon are a couple.

The ethnic group in southern China believes the stars are the children of sun and moon. When the moon is pregnant, it becomes round. When it’s crescent, it has given birth to a child. Hence, women often worship the moon during the festival.

7. The famous fable 嫦娥 Chang’e: Moon Goddess of Immortality!

One of the most famous myths in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan features Houyi 后羿 – God of Archery – who lived during a time when people suffered from overheating with 10 suns shining on Earth. Houyi shot down nine suns and left one for mankind. When he became a tyrant ruler, his people suffered greatly. When he discovered the elixir of immortality, his wife Chang’e took the elixir instead to protect locals from further suffering caused by Houyi. She ascended to the heavens and forever lived on the moon.

 

8. Celebrating harvest. Bring in the money, baby!

Back in agriculture days, Mid-Autumn Festival was a time to enjoy success from reaping rice and wheat. Today, it’s a celebration of successful businesses. Some companies even give bonuses during this time.

9. Last season to fete with outdoor activities.

As the seasons turn a page from summer to fall, Moon Festival is a last chance to officially say goodbye to summertime. You’ll see the Chinese and Taiwanese hosting BBQs with friends and family reunions.

10. In Vietnam, a good centerpiece = a good wife.

Daughters in Vietnam will make embellished centerpieces with tons of treats for their younger siblings. When these homes welcome guests, beautiful centerpieces mean how crafty daughters are and that they’re ready to make skillful wives.

11. Moon cakes 月餅 … YUM!

Often filled with red or mung beans, moon cakes 月餅 are seasonal pastries that symbolize unity and harmony.

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waiting for the moon Thailand is raining

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12. The season of matchmaking!

It’s not only in the western culture that September is a popular month for weddings. Mid-Autumn Festival has always been a trendy time for matchmaking and celebrating marriages.

13. Pomelo 柚子 makes a fruity treat AND a great game for the kids.

In Asia, you’ll find Pomelo or “Youzi” 柚子 all over markets since it’s the fruit in season and representative of Mid-Autumn Festival. You’ll probably see local kids cut the skin of the fruit and wear it as a funny hat.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BKhwe5jgL2R/?taken-by=hui_fang_wu

14. Moon-o-lanterns 燈籠 are o-so-pretty!

Another major component to Moon Festival is the sight of red lanterns lit throughout major cities. Brightly shining lanterns, floating sky lanterns, riddles written on lanterns are all parts of the mid-autumn traditions. Let’s not forget that back in the day, lanterns symbolize fertility.

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#moonfestival #chinatown #dtla #red #lanterns

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What’s your favorite festival in Asia? Share with us in the comments.

Wendy Hung

CEO, FOUNDER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

As the founder of Jetset Times, Wendy is an avid traveler and fluent in five languages. When she's not traveling, Wendy calls Paris and Taipei home. Her favorite countries so far from her travels have been: Bhutan, Iran, and Russia because they were all so different! St. Bart's was pretty amazing too (wink)!

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