This year the Mid-Autumn Festival falls on 19 September 2013 and Chinese, Vietnamese and Taiwanese communities across the world join together to celebrate the end of the autumn harvest period.
In line with many traditional Eastern events and festivals, the Mid-Autumn Festivals, which is also known as the Moon Festival, is aligned with the ancient lunar calendar. This festival falls on the fifteenth day of the eighth month within the lunar calendar.
The Mid-Autumn Festival traditionally gives thanks for the autumn harvest and is marked by the worshipping of deities and also with the consumption of mooncakes. Many shops, hotels and restaurants across China and Hong Kong sell these traditional cakes in elaborate packaging, with luxury versions available at a high cost, for business offerings. Essentially mooncakes are round in shape and are made of a pastry casing, with a sweet red bean or lotus seed paste inside. Intriguingly the calorific content is estimated at around 1,000 calories per mooncake! They are dense but very tasty – if you’re in east Asia around this time, make sure you pick one up to try for the experience.
The day of the Mid-Autumn Festival itself is not a public holiday in Hong Kong and Macau; the following day is however, because as the name suggests ‘Moon Festival’, the majority of celebrations are held at night. And in Vietnam this festival is really celebrated with aplomb, in fact it’s the second most popular holiday on the calendar after Vietnamese New Year.
The autumn full moon has been celebrated by the Chinese since the Shang Dynasty, so as early as 16 century BC. Traditionally it is a time for friends and family to gather together to pray, eat and finish the remaining harvesting of crops. Communities gather for thanksgiving parties to honour both this year’s harvest and also to pray for future happiness, wealth and health.