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Mid-autumn Festival

An Introduction to Mid-autumn Festival

August the 15th according to the lunar calendar is the traditional Mid-autumn Festival in China. Mid-Autumn Festival is a harvest festival celebrate amongst the Chinese. Because on the night of Mid-autumn Festival, looking at the bright full-moon, people stay far away from home miss their families very much. Mid-autumn Festival is a festival on which families should stay together. This festival is in the middle of autumn, people call it as Mid-autumn Festival.

Why is the Mid-Autumn Festival so important for Chinese people? It is related to the moon and Chinese people like the moon very much. In Chinese culture, the full moon is a symbol of peace and prosperity for the whole family. Its roundness symbolizes wholeness and togetherness. In the middle of the eighth month of the Chinese calendar the moon is full, and eight is also a popular number in Chinese culture, symbolizing wealth and prosperity. So people believe this day is very propitious.

The origin of Mid-autumn Festival
It is said that there had been an ugly girl in Qi (an ancient nation in China) named Wuyan. She had worshipped the moon when she was very young. She was selected into the palace because of her outstanding morality when she grew up, but the emperor did not show special favor to her. On a night of August the 15th, the emperor of Qi met her in the moon light. He found Wuyan was such a beautiful girl and he fell in love with her immediately. After that, Wuyan became the queen of Qi. Since that, the tradition of worshipping the moon formed.

Young ladies worship the moon for another reason. In Chinese tale, there is a beauty named Chang’e lives in the moon. Girls hope they can be as beautiful as Chang'e.

For another reason is that in mid-autumn, farmers have just finished gathering their crops and bringing in fruits from the orchards. They are overwhelmed with joy when they have a bumper harvest and at the same time, they feel quite relaxed after a year of hard work. So the 15th day of the eighth lunar month (the Mid-Autumn Festival) has gradually evolved as a widely celebrated festival for ordinary people.

Custom of Mid-autumn Festival
The Mid-Autumn Festival has a history of 2000 years. During these 2000 years lots of Mid-Autumn traditions have been thought up by Chinese people. All the celebrations show the happiness and excitement of Chinese people until now.

Appreciating the moon
The tradition of moon appreciating has been lasting since long long ago. In the Zhou Dynasty, people had ceremonies to welcome the full moon, and they place a big table in the yard, on this table, moon cakes, watermelons, apricots, apples, grapes and some other fresh fruits are prepared. In Tang Dynasty, the tradition of moon appreciating was very popular. In Song Dynasty, this tradition became even more popular. After Ming and Qing Dynasty, more customs formed.

Today, appreciation of the moon is much simple. Members of a family usually sit around a table eating and talking to their heart content and at the same time admiring the bright moon. While looking up the moon, people will think of their relatives afar and good wishes are expressed in their mind.

Eating Moon Cake  
The traditional food for mid-autumn festival is the moon cake which is round and symbolizes reunion. No matter in urban or rural of China, people eat moon cakes on Mid-autumn Festival. Eating moon cakes while appreciating the full moon, this is a symbol of families getting together itself. Hoping being together with families, this is a good wish of Chinese. For this reason, moon cakes become presents nowadays, they represent people's wishes. 

Apart from these two traditional customs, different regions have their own celebrations. For example, in Chaozhou, Guangdong Province, people eat taro to celebrate the festival, because the taro harvest occurs at the same time as the festival. They eat taro and hope the harvest is good in the next year. In Nanjing, people cook duck with sweet-scented osmanthus, because Nanjing people think sweet-scented osmanthus is a symbol of peace. In some places people make fires inside a tower to celebrate the festival, because they think the fire is a symbol of good business.

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