How to Celebrate Chinese Moon Festival 2016
The Moon is an important part of our lives, and the Chinese surely know this. They celebrate the traditional Moon festival every year with great aplomb and tradition.
Chinese Moon Festival is celebrated with a lot of excitement and enthusiasm across China, but it might also interest you to know that countries across the globe celebrate it with the same amount of excitement. In the U.S the Moon Festival is known as Harvest moon and autumn equinox, likewise in Macau it is known as Zhongqiujie. Though it is known by various names, the celebration remains the same, as that of worshipping The Moon Goddess.
Eating Moon Cakes
Eating moon cakes is the most popular celebration of the day. Moon cakes are traditionally Chinese pastries, which is made of wheat flour and sweet stuffings such as sugar and lotus seed powder. Moon cake is a symbol of family reunion, and the cake is traditionally cut into pieces that equal to the number of people in the family.
Making Chinese Mid-Autumn Lanterns
Mid-Autumn lanterns are not as colorful as those of the Lantern Festival. There is no big lantern party during Mid-Autumn Festival, but children like making colorful lanterns very much. They make lanterns of different shapes and let them float on the rivers. They don’t leave the riverside until the light of the lanterns disappears. Sometimes, they make Kongming (Hung Ming) lanterns, which can fly because the burning candles heat the air in the lantern. The lantern rises with the heated air.
Legends of Mid-autumn Festival
According to legend, in the distant past, there used to be 10 suns in the sky one year. The scorching heat dried up the lake and people were at death’s door. Just at that time, a hero named Hou Yi heard about this predicament. With his extraordinary power, he then pulled his supernatural bow and shot 9 needless suns down on the peak of Mount Kunlun.
Hou Yi of course made distinguished contributions to people and was respected, loved and supported by them. A large number of persons of ideals and integrity flocked to Hou Yi to take him as their teacher and seek instructions out of admiration. Among those learners, there was no lack of the treacherous and cunning learner, such as a learner named Peng Meng.
Before long, Hou Yi got married to a beautiful and virtuous girl named Chang’e. They loved each other very much and got along very well. One day, Hou Yi went to Mount Kunlun to meet friends when he encountered the Queen of Heaven who gave him an elixir of life for rewarding his contribution to people. It was said that half of the elixir could make a person live forever and the whole elixir could make a person become an immortal instantly.
However, Hou Yi was unwilling to leave his wife, so he did not eat it. He gave the elixir of life to Chang’e for safekeeping. Chang’e put the elixir of life into a case of her dressing table, which was seen by Peng Meng who was very treacherous.
Three days later, when Hou Yi went out for hunting with his disciples, the disingenuous Peng Meng pretended to be ill, so he didn’t go with them. Shortly after their leave, Peng Meng broke into Hou Yi’s House with a double-edged sword in his hand. Peng Meng threatened Chang’e to hand over the elixir of life. Chang’e knew that she couldn’t manage to protect the elixir of life.
How the Chinese Celebrate It
The festival is celebrated by following some traditions that have been prominent since the first century. Fruits and vegetables are put up on an altar in courtyards. Some of the more prominent fruits are pears, apples, peaches, grapes, pomelos, pomegranates, and melons. Some typical traditional foods, like moon cakes, cooked taro, edible snails, and water caltrop are must in every house celebrating this festival.
These moon cakes look like small fruitcakes of the West. They are made of various things like melon seeds, lotus seeds, almonds, or orange peels. Some moon cakes are made with minced meats or bean paste. Each moon cake is then decorated with a golden yolk from a salted duck egg placed in the center. Symbols of the festival, like rabbits or phoenix motifs, are used to decorate the crusts of the cakes. These cakes are then placed in a certain manner. Thirteen moon cakes are placed in the shape of a pyramid on a table, which signifies a complete year with 12 moons and one intercalary moon.
The Chinese celebrate a lot of festivals, but one of the biggest other than the Chinese Lunar New Year is the Moon festival. On this day, people not only gather together but they also have certain customs that give this festival a traditional feel.
One of the most important things for them to do is eat moon cakes under the moon. They also put pomelo rinds on their heads and carry bright lanterns. No Chinese tradition is complete without burning incense, so incense sticks are burned and respect is given to the deity of Chang’e.
Since it is also the Harvest festival, some farmers celebrate it by planting mid-autumn trees. Dandelion leaves are collected and distributed among family members. And let’s not forget the colorful fire dragon dances on streets.