The Mid-Autumn Festival marks a significant time in East Asia where families come together to have dinner and spend time outdoors. Equipped with lanterns, they head outdoors to take in the night sky holding the full moon while eating moon cakes.
What initially started out as a harvest festival has now become a time for family reunions and peace. Below are four facts you should know about the Mid-Autumn Festival.
1. When is it? The Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the eight month and runs on the lunar calendar. In 2016, it will fall on Sept. 15.
2. You have to serve moon cakes. Moon cakes are an important dish that symbolize unity during the celebration. Typically sweet, the creation of this dessert varies across East and West China. The pastries have evolved over time with major chains like Häagen-Dazs and Starbucks creating their own versions.
3. Lanterns are a must during the celebration. Families that gather together typically give children lanterns. While lanterns are traditionally handmade with paper and a candle to light it, the models have evolved over the years. The newer versions are made of plastic, lit with a bulb and some feature popular cartoon characters.
4. The festival is inspired by a folklore tale. It is said that the Mid-Autumn Festival is associated with the story of the Chinese moon goddess Chang’e. Legend has it that the goddess levitated to the moon when she drank the elixir of life, which was initially given to her husband for shooting down nine of the ten suns, leaving only one in the sky. Devastated without his wife, her husband would make sweet dishes that she liked and give it as a sacrifice to her.