I have long wondered why the UK does not have a national/bank holiday between August bank holiday and Christmas, it seems like a long stretch as the nights draw in. Here in Hong Kong they have two reasons to celebrate October 1st. Not only is it the Mid Autumn Festival but also China National Day with this year celebrating 60 years since the founding of The People’s Republic of China. Please note Mr Brown, or maybe Mr Cameron….maybe as in the States who have Thanksgiving we should celebrate our own harvest, or at least St George’s Day, although that would not help the August – December drought.
The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, or in Chinese, Zhongqiu Jie, is a popular harvest festival celebrated by the Chinese, Koreans, and the Vietnamese (even though they celebrate it differently), dating back over 3,000 years to moon worship in China’s Shang Dynasty. It was first called Zhongqiu Jie (literally “Mid-Autumn Festival”) in the Zhou Dynasty. In Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines it is also sometimes referred to as the Lantern Festival or Mooncake Festival.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar, which is usually around late September or early October in the Gregorian calendar. It is a date that parallels the autumn and spring Equinoxes of the solar calendar, when the moon is supposedly at its fullest and roundest. The traditional food of this festival is the mooncake, of which there are many different varieties.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the two most important holidays in the Chinese calendar, the other being the Chinese New Year, and is a legal holiday in several countries. Farmers celebrate the end of the summer harvesting season on this date. Traditionally, Chinese family members and friends will gather to admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon, and eat moon cakes and pomelos together. Accompanying the celebration, there are additional cultural or regional customs, such as:
* Eating moon cakes outside under the moon
* Putting pomelo rinds on one’s head
* Carrying brightly lit lanterns, lighting lanterns on towers, floating sky lanterns
* Burning incense in reverence to deities including Chang’e
* Planting Mid-Autumn trees
* Collecting dandelion leaves and distributing them evenly among family members
* Fire Dragon Dances
Shops selling mooncakes before the festival, often display pictures of Chang’e floating to the moon.