The Mid-Autumn Festival--also known as the Moon Festival, Zhongqiu Festival, or Zhongqiujie--has been celebrated by Chinese and Vietnamese people for over 3,000 years! It is traced back to moon worship in the Shang Dynasty in China, and has some really interesting roots in Chinese legend and folklore.
Held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar (late September/early October), this date corresponds with the autumnal equinox of the solar calendar, at which time the moon is supposed to be at its fullest and roundest. It is an exceptionally important day on the Chinese calendar, and is even a legal holiday in several countries. Chinese family members and friends will gather to admire the harvest moon, and eat and drink together.
Different regional and cultural customs accompany this festival, as it is so widespread. Some of these include carrying or hanging bright lanterns, burning incense in reverence to deities, planting mid-autumn trees, and even more depending on where you go. One thing that is fairly consistent, however, is the mooncake pastry. This pastry has a thin skin and contains a dense and sweet filling often made from lotus seed paste.
Do you know anyone who celebrates the mid-autumn festival? Have you ever eaten a mooncake?