"Zhong Qiu Jie", which is also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. It is a time for family members and loved ones to congregate and enjoy the full moon - an auspicious symbol of abundance, harmony and luck. Adults will usually indulge in fragrant mooncakes of many varieties with a good cup of piping hot Chinese tea, while the little ones run around with their brightly-lit lanterns.
"Zhong Qiu Jie" probably began as a harvest festival. The festival was later given a mythological flavour with legends of Chang-E, the beautiful lady in the moon.
According to Chinese mythology, the earth once had 10 suns circling over it. One day, all 10 suns appeared together, scorching the earth with their heat. The earth was saved when a strong archer, Hou Yi, succeeded in shooting down 9 of the suns. Yi stole the elixir of life to save the people from the tyrannical rule, but his wife, Chang-E drank it. Thus started the legend of the lady in the moon to whom young Chinese girls would pray at the Mid-Autumn Festival.
In the 14th century, the eating of mooncakes at "Zhong Qiu Jie" was given a new significance. The story goes that when Zhu Yuan Zhang was plotting to overthrow the Yuan Dynasty started by the Mongolians, the rebels hid their messages in the Mid-Autumn mooncakes. Zhong Qiu Jie is hence also a commemoration of the overthrow of the Mongolians by the Han people. Today, moon cakes are eaten to commemorate this event.
Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival in China
Mid-Autumn Festival 中秋节