What Is Mid-Autumn Festival (Zhong Qiu Jie 中秋节)?

What Is Mid-Autumn Festival (Zhong Qiu Jie 中秋节)?

Sometimes called Moon Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival is a beloved Chinese holiday best known for its romantic celebration of the full moon and everything round. It is a time for family and friends to reunite, similar to Thanksgiving in the US. It's a popular time to gift scholarly and symbolic items such as tea, books, and mooncakes. 

Each year it falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, (the middle day during the middle month of the year). In 2023, this will be Friday, September 29th. The full moon is seen as a symbol of reunion, and this holiday celebrates humans and the moon reuniting in a full circle. 

It's a joyous occasion, focusing on family and abundance with over 2,000 years of history.  While today the meaning goes so deep for the holiday, historically, it was a communal way for people to thank the gods for the harvest. We hope you can share the joy of this ancient tradition with friends and family wherever the moon shines.

Why Moons? 

Moon Festival is a time to honor the full moon. The Chinese word for fulfilled, translates to mean round/full. The full moon symbolizes this concept of being fulfilled and full, and on this holiday we honor it’s beauty and all of the good that surrounds us in our lives. It’s very common for people to find round things to attach symbolism to for this holiday like mooncakes, tea cakes, and lanterns. 

There are many mythical stories about the moon that are shared during this festivall, but one of the most widespread is that of Chang-E, the Moon Lady, and her husband, Hou Yi. 

The Legend of Chang-E & Hou Yi

Once upon a time, there were ten suns in the sky. Humans on earth suffered heat and dryness from these ten brutal suns. Hou Yi was a heroic archer that was said to have saved earth when he shot down nine of the ten suns, saving one to keep us warm and comfortable. 

This celebrated hero had a beautiful wife, Chang E. Hou Yi had acquired an elixir from Queen Mother of the Western Paradise that could grant immortality. One version of the story tells the tale that an associate of Hou Yi is obsessed with Chang E’s beauty and came to her when her husband was not home. To escape the associate’s harassment, Chang E swallows the elixir and ascends to the moon. Another tale paints Chang E as the exact opposite character where she went behind Hou Yi’s back and took the elixir for herself without her husband and rose to the moon. It is said that Chang E still lives on the moon, and on a bright evening with the full moon, one might spot her with her jade rabbit companion! 

Today, Chang E is the namesake of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program, and the jade rabbit, Yu Tu is the name of the moon rovers.

How Do You Celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival? 

It’s a beautiful and bright affair, the whole central idea of the holiday is to appreciate having a fulfilling life with family and friends. Lanterns illuminate homes, and feasts and dance parties commence inside. It is also traditional to read poems about the moon, drink tea, gift mooncakes, and “moon view,” where people go outside and admire the moon. People make offerings of mooncakes and pomelo to the moon. It is a public holiday in China, and people enjoy a three-day weekend to celebrate and travel far and wide to be with loved ones. 

What To Gift During Moon Festival? 

The holiday is known for being a time to gift scholarly items. Books, tea, poetry, and the like are the most commonly enjoyed gifts. It’s the holiday when tea is known to be the best-selling item all year in China! 

We created our Mini Cakes For Moon Festival Sampler to tribute this joyful holiday, highlighting the roundness of the full moon in the small circles of the mini cakes. You will find four Pu Er cakes from 2017: Wu Liang Shan, Ban Po Lao Zhai, Guo You Lin, and Ge Lang He. 

How To Make Moon Cakes

If you’re interested in making your moon cakes, head to the Tea Drunk Academy to watch our pairing event from September 2021 - it’s FREE! 

We hope you have a joyful holiday filled with thoughtful poetry, plenty of tea, and time with loved ones!

2 comments

Hey Marci!

In 2022 Moon Festival fell on September 10th. In 2023 it will land on Friday, September 29th.

We hope this is helpful, happy celebrating!
-Tea Drunk

Tea Drunk

Could you list actual
Dates for this fall? Is it August or September? Thanks fir the festival information. Would like to celebrate!

Marci

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