The Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the 81th Lunar month of either September or October. Families usually enjoy the site of the full moon, which symbolizes abundance, harmony and luck. While the adults devour fragrant mooncakes and piping hot tea, children cheerfully round around with brightly-lit lanterns.
Like many festivals, this has a long history. Emperors offered sacrifices to the sun in spring and the moon in autumn. The Zhou Dynasty historical books had used the word “Mid-Autumn”. Aristocrats and literary figures expanded the ceremony to common people, worshiped and expressed their feelings under the bright full moon. The festival saw changes and growth during the coming of the Tang and Song dynasties. It became a full-blown major festival during the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
The Mid-Autumn Festival has a mythological flavor with the beautiful lady in the moon in Chang-E. Chinese Mythology tells us that the earth had 10 heat-scorching suns. A strong archer in Hou Yi shot down 9 suns. He then proceeded to steal the elixir of life to save people from his cruel ruling. His wife Change-E drank the elixir of life to start the legend of the lady in the moon to whom Chinese girls would pray during the festival.
The 14th century marked the genesis of eating mooncakes during the festival. When Zhu Yuan Zhang was planning to overthrow the Yuan dynasty started by the Mongolians, rebels hid their messages in the mooncakes. During the Yuan Dynasty, leaders from the Sung Dynasty were unhappy with foreign ruling and used the mooncakes to coordinate the plan of attack with the rebellion. This proved to be successful as the rebels were able to overthrow the government on the night of the Moon Festival thus the genesis of Ming Dynasty. Today, mooncakes are eaten as a commemorative.