People always hold special feelings for the moon. Many countries in the world celebrate moon-related festivals.
The Mid-Autumn Festival in China falls on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. Since ancient times, Mid-Autumn Day has been the best time to express emotions. Mooncakes were originally offerings to the goddess of the moon. Later, eating mooncakes and appreciating the moon are gradually regarded as a symbol of family gatherings.
Several Asian countries near China share the celebration on this day, only that not all of them call this festival the Mid-Autumn Day. They have various ways to celebrate the festival, and people eat different food on this day.
The Koreans call this day “Chuseok”, which is one of the most important holidays for them. Onthefifteenth day of the eighth lunar month, the Koreans would go to their grandparents’, worship their family ancestors, and appreciate the moon. Songpyeons, or pine cakes, are the Korean traditional food for Chuseok. These half-moon-shaped rice cakes typically contain sweet fillings like red bean paste and date paste. Songpyeons are steamed over a layer of pine needles, and that’s where the name songpyeon comes from — “song” means pine tree.
The Thai also celebrated the Mid-Autumn Day, and they call it the Moon Festival. Before the festival, everywhere in Thailand’s capital Bangkok will be festively decorated. On the night of the festival, everyone worships the moon. Gourmet foods are of course indispensable for a Festival. At that time,pomelos taste best; the big and round pomelos also stand for “family reunion”. There’re a lot of people in Thailand who have Chinese ancestry, so mooncakes are also a festival food. The mooncakes in Thailand incorporate local features, for example, durians are made into popular mooncake fillings.
In Japan, the Mid-Autumn Festival is named Tsukimi or Otsukimi (literally means moon-viewing). Unlike the Chinese, who eat mooncakes to celebrate the festival, the Japanese usually eat eating rice dumplings called Tsukimi dango, which come in various shapes and mainly have red bean paste as fillings.
In Vietnam, people celebrate Têt-Trung-Thu (tet-troong-thoo) on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar. The day is also regarded as the Children’s Festival in Vietnam. On that day, parents would take children to amusement parks.
Not all “Mid-Autumn Days” are celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar. That’s because on different locations, the full moon occurs on different days.
China celebrates the Mid-Autumn Festival only once a year. But in this country, it’s a monthly holiday – Sri Lanka, a tropical island country renowned as the “pearl” on the Indian Ocean. Celebrated on every full moon day of each month, Full Moon Poya Days are important for Buddhists in Sri Lanka who observe the lunar calendar.
Tanzania’s full moon holiday falls on the full moon night in September. On that day, people come to an open area, sit in a circle silently, and won’t celebrate the annual holiday until the moon is high up in the sky.
A line in a famous Chinese poem reads: “As the bright moon shines over the sea, from far away you share this moment with me.” Although different countries have their own time and customs concerning the “moon holiday”, they share the awe for nature, the joy from harvest and the importance they attach to family.