Amidst the darkness the full moon makes its ascent into the evening sky. Families gather as the sky illuminates with a brilliant glow. Sweethearts hold each other. Friends drink a toast to the moon. The moon is believed to be at its biggest and brightest this one night of the year.
There are multiple legends about the origin of this festival. The general theme is a woman who was punished and banished to the moon. She was an incredibly beautiful woman and her beauty brighten the moon. The moon is Yin, which is female, giving this night special meaning and strength to women.
Another legend tells of the creation of a new dynasty. Invading Mongolians from the north had destroyed the Song Dynasty establishing the Yuan Dynasty (1280-1368 AD). The people of China were treated like slaves. They were oppressed and persecuted. In a daring attempt to overthrow the Mongolian rule, rebel leaders sent hidden messages to each household baked in mooncakes. The mooncakes were part of the harvest festival and so the Mongolians would never partake of these pastries. The message instructed everyone to strike and kill the Mongolians during the Mid-Autumn Festival. The attack was successful and the Ming Dynasty was established.
Today, families eat together and watch the moon rise. Round foods are served like grapefruit, pomegranates, apples, grapes, and mooncakes. Rice, wine, and tea are served as well. The highlight of the festival is the Children’s Lantern Parade. Hundreds of children with beautifully colorful lanterns march through the streets.
The Vietnamese have a corresponding Mid-Autumn Festival called Tet Trung Thu. Similar traditions are followed and mooncakes are eaten and given as gifts. Children create lanterns and light them after dark then parade through town.
Use the navigation area on the left to find crafts and recipes for The Mid-Autumn Festival.