How time flies. We are celebrating yet another Mid-Autumn Festival this Sunday though I suspect some of us still have last year's mooncakes in the fridge!
The Mid-Autumn Festival (also known as Mooncake Festival or Lantern Festival in Singapore and Malaysia) falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month of the Chinese calendar (usually around mid- or late-September in the Gregorian calendar), a date that parallels the Autumn Equinox of the solar calendar. This is the ideal time, when the moon is at its fullest and brightest, to celebrate the abundance of the summer's harvest. Read the history of how it all began.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated in Chinese communities all over the world.
The traditional food of this festival is the mooncake, of which there are many different varieties. Local varieties include green tea, pandan (a kind of aromatic leaves used for cooking) and even durian flavour. Of late, these mooncakes come packed in very inviting containers. Truth be told that some customers are more attracted to the containers than the mooncakes themselves. Some have made a hobby of collecting these pretty containers.
Wikipedia says that the Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the two most important holidays in the Chinese calendar (the other being the Chinese Lunar New Year), and is a legal holiday in several countries. Not quite correct here. To the Chinese, the most important holiday or festival is the Winter solstice day (Dec 22) though it is not declared a legal holiday in Malaysia.
Back to the Mid-Autumn Festival - In ancient times, farmers celebrate the end of the summer harvesting season on this date. Traditionally, on this day, Chinese family members and friends gather to admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon, and eat moon cakes and pomeloes together. Like all holidays, dinner is an elaborate affair on this day. Accompanying the celebration, there are additional cultural or regional customs, such as listed below though personally, I have not seen all of them being practised this part of the world.
The Traditional customs include:
1. Eating moon cakes outside under the moon - still practised here
2. Putting pomelo rinds on one's head - haven't seen this amusing sight
3. Carrying brightly lit lanterns - they are also hung in the courtyard
4. Burning incense in reverence to deities including Chang'e (who is supposed to be living on the Moon according to legend) - yes, for Toaists/Buddhists. I remember hinting to my grandmother (she's no longer with us) that man has landed on the Moon.
5. Planting Mid-Autumn trees - have not seen done.
6. Collecting dandelion leaves and distributing them evenly among family members - something new to me.
7. Lighting lanterns on towers - probably similar to #3.
8. Fire Dragon Dances - not seen this part of the world. We only have Dragon dances during the Chinese New Year.
For those celebrating, have a Happy Mid-Autumn Festival.
Mid-Autumn Festival 2007
Mid-Autumn Festival 2006
Mid-Autumn Festival 2005 - What it means in various countries
Mid-Autumn Festival 2005