Mid Autumn Celebrations
On the Mid Autumn day, Chinese families gather to admire the moon believed to be the most beautiful and the roundest on this night. It symbolizes the union of the family and Chinese families celebrate this event by eating moon cakes, 月饼, and admiring the moon. Other food items associated with Mid Autumn are pomelo and Chinese Tea. After dinner, Children carry lanterns and strolling in parks or gardens.
This day is also the birthday of Old Man Under the Moon, the matchmaker, 月下老人.
Pre festival events and preparation
For about one and a half months before the Mid Autumn festival, moon cakes are presented as gifts. Within a family, moon cakes are presented from children to parent, son in law to parents in law and between siblings.
Outside of family unit, moon cakes are exchanged between friends, business associate, and colleagues. In the corporate sector, companies give moon cakes to their customers. Some companies even commission moon cakes with their corporate logo or designs.
The presentation of moon cakes is an opportunity for networking and relationship building and expresses social solidarity between the giving and receiving parties.
Just before the Mid Autumn festival, adults will buy a lantern for young children at home. These lanterns are carried around after the Mid Autumn dinner. Lanterns come in all shapes and sizes from traditional forms to the latest cartoon characters or pop icons. Buying a lantern for Mid Autumn festival is always a big treat for children.
In most places where is there are substantial Chinese population, the local grassroots or cultural institution will organize Mid Autumn events for the public. In Singapore, one of the major celebrations is held in the Singapore Chinatown. Large size lanterns are often used to decorate the area and add to the festive atmosphere.
In some countries and regions such as People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, Mid Autumn or the day after Mid Autumn is a public holiday.
Mid Autumn Legends - Chang Er 嫦娥
The Mid Autumn is closely associated with the story of the Moon Goddess Chang Er (嫦娥), the wife of an ancient ruler who consumed the elixir of immortality and drifted to the moon. She resides in the Moon Palace (月宫) accompanied by a rabbit （玉兔）. This story is retold by parents and is a constant theme in the media and used as decorative theme during the Mid Autumn festival.
Mid Autumn Legends - Yue Lao 月老
The Moon is also associated with Yue Lao (月老), deity of the moon in charged of marriages. A match is made when he ties a red strong between couples. Singles appealed to him for a good marriage or to meet an ideal partner.
Mid Autumn Legends - Overthrow of Mongol Dynasty
Another popular story during the Mid Autumn claims that moon cakes were instrumental in the overthrow of the Mongol dynasty, 元朝, that ruled China from 1271–1368. Messages were inserted into moon cakes to rally for the overthrow of the Mongols and led to the founding of the Ming Dynasty, 明朝, in 1368.
See main story: Moon cake and Mongols