On the 8th full moon of the lunar year comes the Moon Festival. Also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, this is one of the two most important holidays in the Chinese calendar (the other being the Chinese Lunar New Year).
On this night, the moon is at its brightest. Friends and family gather together to enjoy the moonlight, the beautiful lantern displays that illuminate the city and of course eat mooncakes!
The Festival's originis go back to ancient times when people would get together on the 15th day of the 8th moon (around September or October in our Calendar) on a day of thanksgiving for a good rice harvest. This is the time when crops and fruits are at their best and the weather is pleasant.
In ancient China, emperors would make offerings and sacrifices to the sun in spring and to the moon in autumn. mid-autumn-good-harvest
And this is why it is also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival. Autumn in the Chinese Calendar falls on the seventh, eighth and ninth lunar months. To the Chinese, this festival is similar to the American Thanksgiving holiday, celebrating a bountiful harvest.
Nowadays, families and friends get together to celebrate at home or by taking part in one of the many festivities around town.
In celebrations around the world, there are the usual parades and festivals that all children enjoy...
But the hallmark of this festivity is the many fantastic lantern displays throughout.
Mid-Autumn Festival Lanterns in Macau
Mid-Autumn Festival Lanterns in Singapore
Mid-Autumn Festival Lanterns in Hong Kong
What are Moon Cakes?
These are traditional Chinese pastries, filled with a sweet paste. The most common fillings are made of coconut, lotus seed or egg yolks.
According to the legends, Mooncakes were responsible for freeing a town under Mongol rule. A few days before the Mid-Autumn Festival, a rebel army commander had sent Mooncakes to the towns people. There were notes hidden inside the Mooncakes, basically coordinating the effort to rise up at midnight the night of the festival, and attack their captors. The rebellion succeeded and the town was freed from the Mongols, thanks to the Mooncakes!
Moon Cakes have been getting a makeover through the years, you no longer have to stick with the traditional flavors and fillings.
When lotus seed, bean paste or salted egg yolk doesn't do it for you, try Häagen-Dazs or Starbucks Mooncakes!
Häagen-Dazs Mooncakes are covered with chocolate instead of the dry pastry, the filling of Häagen-Dazs mooncakes is of course made of ice cream, and the center? no more egg yolk! The middle is made of Häagen-Dazs mango sorbet.
Starbucks Mooncakes take their inspiration from customers' favorite beverages to come up with their Mid-Autumn favorites like Caramel Macchiato, Tiramisu, Hazelnut Latte, Green Tea Chocolate, Mocha Mochi, Black Tea Earl Grey...
These are typically offered in markets around the world where there is a substantial Asian population. New flavors come out every year so check out what's in store this year!
Make Your Own Chinese Paper Lantern
It's time to decorate your house, classroom, office! Making your own Chinese paper lantern is easy.
All you need is some paper, scissors and glue, we show you how here.
A Lantern Festival Near You
It is quite possible to catch one of these wonderful displays which tour around cities all over the world throughout the year. Keep an eye out for them, we have seen them in London and Miami. The gorgeous lantern displays are set up for about 6 weeks, the lanterns are handmade by Chinese artisans and some of the gigantic displays can reach over 30 feet high and 300 feet long.
Lantern Light Festival in Miami
Check out the Lantern Light Festival Tour Schedule here.
And check out our Pinterest board for more Lantern Festivals around the world!
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