Chinese Mid Autumn Festival - Mooncake Festival
By Invision Power Services
Mooncake Festival ('Zhong Qiu Jie' 中秋节)
The mooncake festival (Zhong Qiu Jie) falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month.
It is an occasion for family members to get together over mooncakes, fruits and fine tea and
have "moon appreciation" (赏月) sessions.
With its association with mooncakes and lanterns, Zhong Qiu Jie is also called Mooncake Festival or
Lantern Festival other then Mid-Autumn Festival.
The Mid Autumn Festival falls on the following dates in the Gregorian calendar:
|Year 2011||Monday||September 12, 2011||Chinese Mid Autumn Festival|
|Year 2012||Sunday||September 30, 2012||Chinese Mid Autumn Festival|
|Year 2013||Thursday||September 19, 2013||Chinese Mid Autumn Festival|
|Year 2014||Monday||September 8, 2014||Chinese Mid Autumn Festival|
|Year 2015||Sunday||September 27, 2015||Chinese Mid Autumn Festival|
|Year 2016||Thursday||September 15, 2016||Chinese Mid Autumn Festival|
|Year 2017||Wednesday||October 4, 2017||Chinese Mid Autumn Festival|
|Year 2018||Monday||September 24, 2018||Chinese Mid Autumn Festival|
|Year 2019||Friday||September 13, 2019||Chinese Mid Autumn Festival|
|Year 2020||Thursday||October 1, 2020||Chinese Mid Autumn Festival|
It probably began as a harvest festival where Chinese agrarian communities celebrate and
rejoice over their harvest.
The legend of Chang-E (常娥) and
Hou Yi (后翼) goes like this: the earth once had ten suns circling it,
each taking its turn to bring light and warmth to earth. However, one day all ten
suns appeared together. The heat was so scorching and unbearable. A strong archer named Hou Yi
came out and succeeded in shooting down nine suns. He was later made the emperor but after
that he became a tyrant.
He wanted the elixir of life so that he can continue to rule forever.
In order to save the people from his tyranny, his wife Chang-E stole the elixir and comsumed it herself.
She then floated to the moon taking along her pet rabbit with her. Hence started the legend of the lady
in the moon with her Jade Rabbit.
Zhong Qiu Jie was given new meaning during the 14th century when
Zhu Yuan Zhang (朱元章) plotted against the Yuan dynasty started by the Mongolians.
The rebels hid their messages in the mooncakes. Zhu eventually succeeded in overthrowing the Mongolian
rule and became the first emperor of the Ming dynasty. Although Han rule was taken over by the Manchus in
the 17th century (Qing dynasty), Zhong Qiu Jie continues to be a commemoration of the overthrow of
the Mongolians by Han people.
Zhong Qiu Jie is quite extensively celebrated in China. Mooncakes and lanterns are put up
for sale as early as a month before the festival.
People buy mooncakes not only for personal consumption, but also as offerings to ancestors and
gifts to senior relatives. The pomelo fruit is another of the popular gift to go along with the mooncakes.
The Cantonese name for pomelo is "yow" which has the same meaning as "have".
Children are happy because they have mooncakes and pomelo to eat and also have lanterns to play with.
For the adults, they take part in lantern-making competitions and exhibitions. Traditional games such
as "deng mi" (lantern puzzle / 猜灯迷) whereby verses of puzzles are
hung on lanterns for people to solve.