Falling on the 15th day of the 8th month according to the Chinese lunar calendar, the Mid-Autumn Festival is the second grandest festival in China after the Chinese New Year.
On the festival day, family members gather to appreciate the bright full moon, tell stories of the moon to the children, eat moon cakes, and express love toward family members and friends who live far away. In addition, There are some other customs such as playing lanterns, dragon and lion dance in some places.
When is Mid-Autumn?
Being a lunar festival the date of the Mid-Autumn festival changes from year to year.
2021 September 21st, Tuesday
2022 Sept 10th, Saturday
2023 September 29th, Friday
2024 September 17th, Tuesday
2025 October 6th, Monday
The Legend of the Mid-Autumn Festival
There are a number of different legends linked to the Mid-Autumn Festival, but the most popular legend is the story of the beautiful Chang E.
It is said that in ancient times, ten suns existed and the extreme heat made people’s lives very difficult.
It was the hero Hou Yi, who, owing to his great strength, shot down nine of the ten suns. On hearing of this amazing feat and the hero who performed it, people came from far and wide to learn from him.
Peng Meng was among these people. Later, Hou Yi married a beautiful and kind-hearted woman named Chang E and lived a happy life.
One day, Hou Yi came upon Wangmu (the queen of heaven) on the way to meet his old friend. Wangmu presented him an elixir which, if took, would cause him to ascend immediately to heaven and become a god/goddess. Instead of drinking the potion himself, Hou Yi took it home and presented it to Chang E to keep.
Unfortunately, Peng Meng secretly saw Hou Yi give the potion to his wife and three days later, while Hou Yi was out hunting, Peng Meng rushed into the backyard and demanded that Chang E hand over the elixir. Knowing that she could not win, she took out the elixir and swallowed it immediately. The moment she drank it, she flew out of the window and up into the sky.
Chang E’s great love for her husband drew her towards the Moon, which is the nearest place to the earth on the heaven. On realizing what happened to his wife, Hou Yi was so grieved that he shouted Chang E’s name to the sky. He was amazed to see a figure which looked just like his wife appeared in the Moon. He took the food liked by Chang E to an altar and offered it as a sacrifice for her.
After hearing that Chang E became a goddess, folk people also offered sacrifices to Chang E to pray for peace and good luck. Since then, the custom of sacrificing to the moon has been spread among the folklore.