Beginning on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, China welcomes one of its most beloved and anticipated festivals, the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. Deeply imbedded with rich Chinese tradition and culture, it has often been dubbed as one of the most important of the traditional Chinese events. Not only that, but it is also one of the most fun and exciting!
The holiday is also subject to several other titles, including the Moon Festival, Mooncake festival, and the Lantern Festival.
Three fundamental concepts revolve around this special day; gathering, giving thanks, and praying. These three ideas have been a critical component of the Mid-Autumn festival and carried throughout the centuries since it's origin during the Shang Dynasty.
One of the most important parts of the festival, as you may have guessed by the different names it's given, is moon worship. In ancient China it was believed that there was a connection between the moon and water that provided you with rejuvenation. Due to these beliefs, it became very popular for women to give offerings and worship the moon on the night after it was full.
Modern day celebrations still involve offers of rice and wheat being made to the moon, but it also has introduced many new activities over the years. Some of these include parades of lanterns of various sizes, colors, and shapes as well the displaying of handcrafted lanterns, an art form that is heavily emphasized on this day despite its unfortunate decline in popularity in recent years.
One of the most popular and important activities during the Mid-Autumn Festival is the creation and passing around of moon cakes. Originally, moon cakes were "sacrificed" to the moon during this time as a thank you for that year's fall harvest, since the ancient Chinese people believed the full moon was heavily connected to the changing seasons andagriculture. Today, they are still offered to the full moon but also just eaten in celebration with friends and family. The inspiration for the shape of the cakes comes, of course, from the shape of the moon but also from the idea that a circle symbolizes the coming together of family. In addition to enjoying the cakes amongst each other, people also give them as gifts to friends to wish them a long and fulfilled life.
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