Once a year, the people of China celebrate the moon to thank it for the harvest. Also called the Mid-Autumn Festival, the celebration is over 3,000 years old!
Today, people see the Lunar Festival as a time to reunite with their families. Tradition has long held that eating together at a round table and worshipping the moon brings good luck and happiness.
This year, the festival will be held on October 1, the same day as National Day in China. That means the people of China will get a combined eight days off to celebrate the two holidays. Pretty nice, right?
Why Did The Tradition Start?
The 15th day of the lunar calendar's eighth month is considered the optimal time to harvest rice. People also believe that the full Harvest Moon that occurs at this time is the brightest of the year.
Families used to gather and give thanks for the harvest. They would worship and eat together. Mooncakes are the most important food of the festival. Families used to make them at home, but many purchase them now.
The round pastries are traditionally filled with lotus seed paste, bean paste, or egg yolk. Now, however, you can also find chocolate or ice cream mooncakes. Yum!
Other Traditional Foods
Because it's a time to gather with family and celebrate the harvest, there are naturally many traditional foods in addition to mooncakes. For example, pumpkins are thought to bring good health.
According to legend, a poor elderly couple became very ill, and their daughter picked a pumpkin to feed them. The couple recovered after eating the pumpkin, giving rise to the belief that pumpkins bring good health.
River snails are cooked with herbs and thought to brighten the eyes. Taro wards off bad luck and brings good. Duck and hairy crab are also traditional foods. And families drink wine with fermented osmanthus flowers to celebrate their reunion and happy lives.
Appreciating The Moon
In China, family reunion is symbolized by the moon. Families may go out on balconies or rooftops, travel to mountaintops, or congregate by lakes to enjoy the view of the moon.
In rural areas, some towns still hold moon worshipping ceremonies. Many families place a table outside with fruit, incense, and candles upon it, facing the moon.
Children make lanterns and write their wishes in them. The lanterns are placed in trees, floated down rivers, and some float with candles inside. So beautiful!
It's also common to exchange small gifts, like mooncakes, with friends, relatives, and employees. People make short visits and leave before dinner so they can return home.
It's easy to see why the traditional time of the rice harvest became so important for families who depended on it. Today, we strive to help support the Red Yao tribe and preserve their traditions by purchasing our Longsheng rice from them at a premium.The Red Yao women welcomed us like family and generously shared their traditions with us. So as the Lunar Festival approaches, we'd like to share a traditional greeting with them and with you: Wishing us (all) a long life to share the graceful moonlight, though thousands of miles apart.