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Mid-Autumn Festival

Updated on June 29, 2015

Chinese Harvest Festival

Most cultures have a harvest festival. China is no exception. The Mid-Autumn Festival 中秋节 (Zhong Qiu Jie) is one of the three most important, traditional Chinese holidays. (The other two are Chinese New Year and Dragon Boat Festival.)

It takes place on the fifteenth day of the eighth month (according to the lunar calendar). It is usually on or close to the time of the Harvest Moon, when the moon appears at its fullest during the autumn equinox.

It is also sometimes called the Mooncake Festival after the delicious treats eaten at this time of year. Traditionally, it is a time to meet with friends and family for a meal and watch the moon.

Mooncake

Mooncake
Mooncake
The Moon Goddess Chang E
The Moon Goddess Chang E

Legend of Chang E - The Moon Goddess

In ancient times, 10 suns scorched the earth until the fields could no longer produce crops and people were dying from the terrible drought. The hero Hou Yi shot down nine of the suns and saved the land from destruction.

As reward for saving the people, Hou Yi was made king and was given an immortality potion. Unfortunately, Hou Yi later became an evil ruler whom everyone hated. Even his wife, Chang E, despised him. She knew that if he took the immortality elixir, the nation would be destroyed by his never-ending evil. So, to save her countrymen, Chang E drank the potion herself.

Her body became so light that she flew into the air and went to live on the moon where she became the Moon Goddess, accompanied by her jade rabbit.

On the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival, look for Chang E on the surface of the full moon.

If you'd like the entire background of the Mid-Autumn Festival in a convenient 2 page PDF format, click here.

"When the moon is round, families unite."

The Moon Lady

The Moon Lady (Aladdin Picture Books)
The Moon Lady (Aladdin Picture Books)

In this picture book for grades 4-6, a grandmother recounts a story from her childhood to her three granddaughters. On the night of the Mid Autumn Festival, she gets separated from her family. The story tells her adventures in getting back to her family.

 

Chinese Festivals Video

This video begins with the Mid-Autumn Festival and goes on to describe other traditional Chinese holidays.

Ways to Celebrate Mid Autumn Festival

  • Go outdoors at night and watch the moon.

  • Visit with friends and family, especially over a good meal.

  • Eat mooncakes.

  • Make your own mooncakes.

  • Read or write poetry about the moon.

  • Learn a poem in Chinese.

  • Make a craft.

  • Learn about the science behind the annual harvest moon.

Origin of Mooncakes

During the 14th century Yuan dynasty, China was ruled by the Mongols. Many Chinese people desired to revolt against the Mongols. So they came up with a clever plan to communicate their revolution -- secret messages about the time and place of the revolt were hidden inside mooncakes. When Chinese citizens sliced the mooncakes, they found the secret messages about the revolt and joined in the effort. The revolt (on the night of the Mid Autumn Festival) was successful in driving the Mongols out of China, thanks to the mooncake communication.

The filling of a moon cake is usually sweet, but can also be savory. Nuts, lotus paste, red bean paste, and dates are common fillings. A cooked egg yolk is often embedded in the very center. A few people still make homemade mooncakes using wooden molds. But most people buy the commercial varieties packaged in lovely tins and boxes.

Mooncakes are usually round like the moon and symbollize togetherness and harmony. (Less frequently you will find square shaped mooncakes.) Molds made of metal, wood or plastic are used to press beautiful designs into the mooncakes.

Mooncake Mold

Round Lotus Design 1-3/4-Inch-by-1-Inch Cookie and Cake Mold
Round Lotus Design 1-3/4-Inch-by-1-Inch Cookie and Cake Mold

To make authentic mooncakes, you need a mold like this. Traditionally the molds were always wooden. But today you can also find plastic ones.

 

The Mid-Autumn Moon

A full moon hangs high in the chilly sky,

All say it's the same everywhere, round and bright.

But how can one be sure thousands of li away

Wind and perhaps rain may not be marring the night?

by Li Qiao

Round is a Mooncake - A Book of Shapes

Round is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes
Round is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes

A shape book themed around a Mid-Autumn Festival evening.

Homeschool Share has a free unit and printables to go along with this book.

 

Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats - A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities & Recipes

Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats: A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities & Recipes
Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats: A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities & Recipes

This activity guide features five Chinese festivals: Chinese New Year and the Lantern Festival, Tomb Sweeping (Qing Ming) Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival, and the Mid-Autumn Festival. Each chapter includesthe history and customs of the holiday plus recipes, crafts, or games to add a hands-on element to your study.

 

Thanking the Moon - Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival

Thanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival
Thanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival

This simple picture book features a Chinese family celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival with a night time picnic under the moon.

 

Printables for Mid-Autumn Festival

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    • iijuan12 profile image

      iijuan12 5 years ago from Florida

      Another great lens! Thank you for sharing!

    • SheilaMilne profile image

      SheilaMilne 5 years ago from Kent, UK

      I think we should all adopt the festival! :)

    • profile image

      crstnblue 5 years ago

      Wonderful lens! Thanks for sharing!

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 5 years ago

      Nicely done lens & great resource. ***Angel blessed*** :)

    • profile image

      scar4 6 years ago

      I wish to spend the next mid-autumn festival with my family. Moved by your lens.

    • profile image

      RebeccaE 6 years ago

      the more I read this, the more I know, thanks.

    • profile image

      Moments with Wanda 7 years ago

      I love your lens.......Very well done!

    • LilliputStation profile image

      LilliputStation 7 years ago

      Congrats on LOTD!

    • profile image

      TnFlash 7 years ago

      Excellent article! The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the biggest Chinese Festivals of the year. You have done a great job capturing it.

    • drs2biz lm profile image

      David Schroeter 7 years ago from St Kilda, Victoria, Australia

      It's almost upon us. The mooncakes are selling, here in Haikou, like... hotcakes! Happy Mid-Autumn Festival, Jimmie, and my congratulations on your first LOTD.

    • Kreiton Sitorus profile image

      Kreiton Sitorus 7 years ago

      Cool..... complete explanation of the mid-autumn fest! I like it!

    • profile image

      MysticLady 7 years ago

      Autumn is my favorite time of year. The weather is becoming cooler, but not to cold and the leaves are changing into wonderful shades or red, orange and yellow. so many things happen this time of year. I'd like to thank you for posting this and all the respieces

    • Utsahan profile image

      Utsahan 7 years ago

      I like this lense. Was wondering how to make mooncakes! Congrats for being the lense of the day.

    • profile image

      airlen 7 years ago

      Moon cakes is a truly must have delicacies in most part of Asia and I will usually buy a few varieties to share among my family members. You will be amazed just how many flavors there are these days.

    • Rita-K profile image

      Rita-K 7 years ago

      Very interesting, great pictures, wonderful layout! Thanks for the great information, I really enjoyed your lens!

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 7 years ago from La Verne, CA

      Jimmie, Balloons in all the Chinese colors are flying in celebration of LotD. You deserve it in my book.

    • profile image

      AshleyKelahlyah 7 years ago

      I had never heard of this before! Thanks for the great information, and the history. Mooncakes sound good too.

    • Ninatheblackhai profile image

      Nina 7 years ago from Flint, MI

      Wow, what a nice lens! I had never heard of a Mid-Autumn festival before now. I saw a moon a few nights ago that was perfectly full like the moon that's celebrated in this festival It was beautiful!!! My daughters and I tried to get pictures. Its hard to get pictures with a camera phone at night.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Great lens on the Mid-autumn Festival...thanks for sharing the history and much more on through this lens. Those moon cakes look yummy...congrats on LotD! :)

    • beckyf profile image

      beckyf 7 years ago

      Excellent, interesting lens. :)

    • profile image

      eclinicmd 7 years ago

      Great lens and very informative information.

    • Charlino99 profile image

      Tonie Cook 7 years ago from USA

      This is beautiful. Congrats on your well deserved LOTD.

    • shwetashah profile image

      shwetashah 7 years ago

      Good presentation of the topic. Never know about this Chienese Harvest Festival...

    • Tagsforkids profile image

      Tagsforkids 7 years ago

      Congrats on your LOTD! Those Mooncakes look scrumptious!

    • profile image

      MonicaNilo 7 years ago

      Very interesting the information! Congratulations

    • PRam1 profile image

      PRam1 7 years ago

      I love to learn new cultures and your lens is immensely useful. Thanks for sharing and congratulations on LOTD

    • profile image

      kt_glasses 7 years ago

      Very nice lens here! Good job!

    • Rusty Quill profile image

      Rusty Quill 7 years ago

      Congrats on LotD- what a delightful lens. Chock another fan up for the moon cakes - delicious. :)

    • JenniferAkers LM profile image

      JenniferAkers LM 7 years ago

      What a fabulous, educational lens! I hadn't known about the history of the Mid-Autumn Festival. The mooncakes look delicious, too - so elegant looking. I'm happy to find out about the Mooncake Festival now, since the countdown says it starts in 9 days!! Congrats on LOTD - well deserved!

    • profile image

      happynutritionist 7 years ago

      Interesting information about how another culture celebrates...congrats on LOTD:-)

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 7 years ago from Australia

      It's good to hear about the festivals of other nations and the history that surrounds them. Thanks for the education. Lensrolled to my food coloring pages.

    • profile image

      coley1973 7 years ago

      That was great, good job

    • profile image

      Mart903 7 years ago

      Congratulations on this interesting and nice looking Lens of the Day!

    • profile image

      MonicaNilo 7 years ago

      Very interesting. Congratulations on LOTD.

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 7 years ago

      Enjoy your festival. Blessed by an Angel.

    • mich1908 profile image

      mich1908 7 years ago

      Nice to see your lense on the Mid-Autumn Festival. We celebrate this festival too in Malaysia. My favourite mooncake is the pure lotus with one egg yolk. There are a lot of variations here but the traditional type is still the best to me! Great lense. Thanks.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Awesome lens on Chinese festival. Congrats.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 7 years ago from Arkansas USA

      P.S. I forgot to say congratulations for Lens of the Day!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 7 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Interesting cultural lesson! I always look forward to the harvest moon in the fall. Might have to make a "moon cake" this year!

    • justholidays profile image

      justholidays 7 years ago

      Any way to share that moocake recipe? Looks yummy!

      Delightful to learn about other cultures!

    • MomwithAHook LM profile image

      Sara Duggan 7 years ago from California

      What a lovely lens about this festival. Autumn is such a great time of year. Thanks for sharing. I enjoy your lenses and your printables.

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 7 years ago

      Yes, many cultures do celebrate the harvest. This is good well researched information. Thanks Congratulations on your LOTD!

    • Airinka profile image

      Airinka 7 years ago

      interesting lens

    • myneverboredhands profile image

      myneverboredhands 7 years ago

      Very interesting and informative lens. Thumbs up. Congrats on LOTD.

    • stacy mcdaniel profile image

      stacy mcdaniel 7 years ago

      Congratulations on lens of the day:-)

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 7 years ago from Vermont

      Yet another interesting Harvest Season tradition to learn about ... and the mooncake history is fascinating. The mooncake reminds me a bit of the King Cake served during Mardi Gras.

    • divacratus 2 profile image

      divacratus 2 7 years ago

      Congrats on LoTD! A wonderful lens and the mooncakes just look yummylicious to say the least!

    • ronpass lm profile image

      ronpass lm 7 years ago

      Fascinating, educational lens well deserving of Lens of the Day. Thanks for the research and informed comment.

    • profile image

      DebMartin 7 years ago

      Ah, my favorite time of year. I love the intimacy of mid-autumn. And now I'm hungry for mooncakes. How about a recipe? Nice lens, Jimmie.

    • semas profile image

      semas 7 years ago

      Very interesting information.Congrats for the LOTD award

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Congrats on a well-deserved LotD. Blessed!

    • profile image

      tssfacts 7 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD. I like the moon cake too. Very informative article.

    • kateloving profile image

      Kate Loving Shenk 7 years ago from Lancaster PA

      Beautiful tribute to a special time of the year. Congratulations for your LOTD, too!!

    • modz profile image

      modz 7 years ago

      It looks very tasty, I want to try it ! Congratulations on LOTD!

    • ed77burns lm profile image

      ed77burns lm 7 years ago

      mooncake are really yummy................

    • larrybla lm profile image

      larrybla lm 7 years ago

      Thank yuou for sharing such a unique cultural activity. By the way - the pictures are great. Thanks!

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      RebeccaE 7 years ago

      lovely and congrats on a lens of the day.

    • MyFairLadyah2 profile image

      MyFairLadyah2 7 years ago

      Congrats on getting LOTD

      It's a lovely sharing of ways

      Like teaching of Chang E

      And of the Moon Phase

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 7 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Interesting share on this festival.

    • jmsp206 profile image

      Julia M S Pearce 7 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      How lovely! Great lens and delish moon cake!

    • RichLeighHD profile image

      RichLeighHD 7 years ago

      Interesting lens! Many congratulations on the Lens of the Day! :)

    • VarietyWriter2 profile image

      VarietyWriter2 7 years ago

      Congrats on your LOTD Jimmie!

    • profile image

      Jerry_David 7 years ago

      wow, it is coming. Happy Mid-Autumn Festival and congrats on Great Lotd!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I had heard of the Mooncake Festival but had not related it to Mid-Autumn. Those cakes look delicious. Congrats on LOTD! Ringing my little Squid Angel bell with a blessing in honor of the upcoming festival and this glorious lens.

    • caketech profile image

      caketech 7 years ago

      Very informative! I learned a lot of new things from this lens!

    • JakTraks profile image

      Jacqueline Marshall 7 years ago from Chicago area

      Interesting lens - I learned something new. Thanks

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I've heard of mooncakes but didn't know what they were for, interesting lens, congratulations on your LOTD Jimmie! - Kathy

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 7 years ago

      Love this lens. I just shared a mooncake with two co-workers today just before spotting your LOTD. What a wonderful coincidence. The mooncake we ate had lotus seeds, bean paste and 2 egg yolks. It came in a box of 4 assorted mooncakes, some with walnuts, pine nuts, lotus seeds, sweet bean paste. I grew up with these delicacies which are only made about the month of the moon or autumn festival in September. I don't know why a box of 4 cost $20 or more but it is well worth it. I learned something new from this lens. Congrats on LOTD.

    • northamerica profile image

      northamerica 7 years ago

      Congratulations on earning LOTD.

      That moon cake looks DELICIOUS.

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 7 years ago from Concord VA

      Interesting lens. Congratulations on LotD!!

    • SAMEPRINCESS10 profile image

      SAMEPRINCESS10 7 years ago

      I LIKE ASIAN FOOD, BUT NEVER TRIED THEIR MOONCAKES.

      I LIKE LUCKY THINGS LIKE THE WHITE KITTIE, AND THE DRAGONS IN THE ASIAN PARADES. DO YOU ALL CELEBRATE THE WATER FAIR? I SEEN THAT ON T.V. . PLEASE COME SEE OUR IRELAND LENS, AND LEAVE US A COMMENT .OR TWO.

      THANKS! PRINCESS10, AND FRIENDS 2010.

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 7 years ago

      What a great lens on an interesting subject. *-*Blessed*-* and featured on Sprinkled with Stardust, Squidoo LOTD lenses and also on Blue Moon. Congrats on LOTD, well deserved

    • Amy Fricano profile image

      Amy Fricano 7 years ago from WNY

      super, quite unique, learned a ton.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 7 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD! Happy Mid-Autumn to you! well you brought back some fond memories of going to San Francisco China Town and eating Moon Cake...I forgot all about that! thanks for the memory stroll...

    • Addy Bell profile image

      Addy Bell 7 years ago

      Mmmm ... mooncake. In spite of living in San Francisco (with a large Chinese community) I'd never heard of the Autumn Festival before.

    • Fcuk Hub profile image

      Fcuk Hub 7 years ago

      I know only chinese take away food. This looks really tasty.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Congrats on LOTD. Well deserved!

    • Kiwisoutback profile image

      Kiwisoutback 7 years ago from Massachusetts

      I wonder what mooncakes taste like? Fall is definitely here, last night was very cool here in New England. Congratulations on LOTD!

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 7 years ago

      That was my first response too: tasty looking moon cake. Perhaps something for a separate lens? Anyhow, well deserved LOTD.

    • profile image

      GrowWear 7 years ago

      Congratulations for your LOTD for Mid-Autumn Festival!

    • nebby profile image

      nebby 7 years ago from USA

      Ha, Ha I was also going to mention the moon cake - it looks sooo good. I have never heard of the mid-autumn festival before and I'm going to read up more about it (thanks to your LOTD) Very interesting- thanks for sharing with us,

    • Peregrina LM profile image

      Peregrina LM 7 years ago

      You have some great photos and information--and that mooncake looks wonderful. Congratulations on LotD!

    • modz profile image

      modz 7 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD! :)

    • DecoratingEvents profile image

      DecoratingEvents 7 years ago

      Nice Lens! I will be making some mooncakes this Autumn. Congrats on the LOTD.

    • purplelady profile image

      purplelady 7 years ago

      What a very interesting and colorful lens. Loved it. Thanks for informing me about something I knew nothing.

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      kimmanleyort 7 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD! I love reading about what homeschooling Moms are doing to teach their kids. Recreating this festival would be tons of fun.

    • mythphile profile image

      Ellen Brundige 7 years ago from California

      Wonderful lens! I love learning about myths/traditions/festivals around the world. This one is fascinating: the story of the nine deadly suns and the male god slaying them complements and balances the story of the one moon and the goddess drinking of everlasting life. Interesting that the number nine is associated with suns, this time, and there's only one moon!

      It's fun to see how different cultures weave similar but always unique stories around sun and moon.

      And now I have yet another moon goddess to remember when I look up and see lady Selene!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 7 years ago

      I've seen mooncakes in L.A.'s Chinatown, but didn't realize the significance. Happy Mid-Autumn Festival, and congratulations on LOTD.

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 7 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Mmm, yes those moon cakes look delicious as well as beautiful!

    • rgasperson lm profile image

      Robert T Gasperson 7 years ago from South Carolina

      You should add a Mooncake Recipe to the Lens. It looks so good. I didn't see one here, maybe I am blind. I don't know. Great lens. Congrats on LOTD.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 7 years ago from United States

      Congratulations on Lens of the Day!

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      SofiaMann 7 years ago

      Never heard of mooncakes, but are beautiful. Congratulations on LOTD.

    • pylemountain1 profile image

      pylemountain1 7 years ago

      I always wondered what the big deal was about the Mooncakes and now I know. Thanks for the great lens!

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      Gift-Guide 7 years ago

      It is interesting to read about different culture as each one have a unique festival and food. Congratulation on LOTD!

    • teamlane profile image

      teamlane 7 years ago

      Congrats Jimmie! I was the first person to "like" this one on Facebook! Yeah! :)

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      An informative lens. Love to learn about other people cultures, sometimes you learn just how much we have in common. Thank you for the lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I can't wait to taste the red bean mooncake this coming zhong chiu festival! Ops I mean mid autumn festival. Congrats!

    • orebro profile image

      orebro 7 years ago

      What a nice feel-good lens. Congrats on LotD!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Congratulations on your LOTD! It's definitely overdue. I so enjoy your amazing homeschool lenses. You've managed to create two niches - one for educational materials and one for just plain fun-to-read stuff - all in the same lenses. Enjoy your weekend! I'll be looking for a moon cake...

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Ah, I see I'm not the first one to comment on the mooncake. :) Looks tasty. Very interesting lens, Jimmie. Well done!