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Chinese Holidays
Mid-autumn Festival
Mid-autumn festival represents the Chinese version of Harvest Festival aka, harvest home.

However it is deeply related to Chang-e the Moon Goddess, who's unrequited love for a mortal interweaves this most precious of Chinese days; as she and her sad story are still revered to this day. Her image appears on many festive gifts such as mooncakes, boxes and wrappers. She is often referred to in English as 'The Lady in/of the Moon'. You can read more about her fate here...

Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon Festival is known to Chinese as Zhong Qui Jie - 中秋節(Cantonese), 中秋节 (Mandarin), zhōngqiūjié (Pinyin). This festival is also revered in Vietnam, where it is known as Tết Trung Thu. It is a major holiday in these countries, and of course in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao.

Other Chinese related countries also respect this day such as Singapore, Malaysia and The Philippines; although it is not always a public holiday outside areas of direct Chinese descent. Vietnam in this case is included because the country, and especially the north, shares common Cantonese history over millennia.

Mid-autumn Day occurs on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month of the Chinese calendar, which is in September or early October in the Gregorian calendar. It is a date that parallels the autumnal equinox of the solar calendar, when the moon is at its fullest and roundest.

The Festival can be traced back through literature to the Shang dynasty some 3, 500 years ago. Presumably it predates this by millennia, as certain references in text allude to ancient myths - that are now being proved to be fact!

The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the few most important holidays in the Chinese calendar, the others being Chinese New Year and Winter Solstice, and is a legal holiday in several countries.

Traditionally farmers celebrate the end of the summer harvesting season on this date. On this day Chinese family members and friends will gather to admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon, and eat moon cakes and pomelos (Chinese Grapefruit) under the moon together. Accompanying the celebration, there are additional cultural or regional customs, such as:
* Carrying brightly lit lanterns, lighting lanterns on towers, floating sky lanterns
* Burning incense in reverence to deities including Chang'e (Chinese: 嫦娥; pinyin: Cháng'é)
* Planting Mid-Autumn trees
* Collecting dandelion leaves and distributing them evenly among family members
* Fire Dragon Dances

In Taiwan, since the 1980s, barbecuing meat outdoors has become a widespread way to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival. Haze can usually be seen blocking the moon in Singapore.

Shops selling mooncakes before the festival often display pictures of the Moon Goddess Chang'e floating to the moon.

Mid-autumn Festival usually coincides with Chinese National Golden Week Holidays, which begin each year on 1st October. When like this year (2010) the two are a week apart it can lead to some confusion regards public holidays and time off work, especially for foreign businessmen.
Image: The Lady in the Moon or Chang-e - Click to Enlarge
If you receive a giftbox of Mooncakes then know you are being both honoured and included in Chinese tradition. There is no requirement for foreigners to return a similar gift to the giver, but it would be wise to do so. This in turn means that you, your PA, wife or close friends needs to be aware of your social circle, and of what to expect - often PA's will exchange notes behind the scenes so no embarrassment can be inferred.

Related Pages:
* Mid-autumn Festival - this page
* Chang-e (Chang'e), The Lady of the Moon
* Mooncakes
This information is as supplied by ourselves, and ably supported by our friends and various internet portals.

Much of this was sourced and/or adapted from Wikipedia under Collective Commons Licence, including the main picture in text. Please use this link to refer to our sources.
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