Customs on Mid-Autumn Day
In China, there are many customs to observe traditional Mid-Autumn Festival. Families get together to appreciate and offer sacrifice to the bright moon, and eat moon cakes. Besides, other activities like dragon dancing and doing obeisance to the moon are popular in certain areas.
1.Appreciating and Offering Sacrifice to the Moonlight
Since ancient times, Chinese emperors offered sacrifices to the sun in the spring and the moon in autumn. Especially in the Zhou Dynasty (11th century BC - 221 BC), the big incense burn table was arranged and all kinds of food were offered in sacrifice that day. However, appreciating the moon became more popular in the Tang (618 - 907) and Song Dynasties (960 - 1279). Many famous poems for praising the moon on the night of the festival were created during those periods. In the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644), the Moon Altar was built for the purpose of sacrifice to the moon on the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Today, sacrifice has been replaced by a simple appreciation of the moon. Members of a family usually sit around a table eating and talking to their heart content and at the same time admiring the bright moon. While looking up the moon, people will think of their relatives afar and good wishes are expressed in their mind.
2.Eating Moon Cakes and Watching the Full Moon
As with every Chinese holiday, the Mid-Autumn Festival has its own special food. People eat moon cakes at Mid-Autumn Festival. The moon cake is a kind of cookie with various fillings and on the surface are printed different artistic patterns depicting the story of Chang E flying to the moon. People treated this kind of food as one of the sacrificial offerings to the moon in the old days. Today, it has become an indispensable food while appreciating the bright moon for every family.
As the moon cake is round in shape, it symbolizes the reunion of a family, so it is easy to understand how the eating of moon cakes under the round moon can inspire the missing of distant relatives. Nowadays, people present the moon cakes to relatives and friends to demonstrate that they wish them a long and happy life.
3.Mid-Autumn Festival Lantern Fair
To accentuate the brightness of the moon, people traditionally light up lanterns on the Mid-Autumn Festival. The color lanterns are made of bamboo slips and paper. They come in different shapes and sizes, with candles inside. The lanterns with flickering candlelight are a visual feast to everyone. The scale of the Mid-Autumn Festival lantern fair is second only to that of the Lantern Festival.
4.Straw Dragon Lanterns of Wuyuan
In the dialect spoken in Wuyuan of Anhui Province, the word "deng" (meaning "a lantern") sounds the same as the word "ding" (meaning "a member of a family"). Therefore the festive activates involving lanterns symbolize the wishes for adding new members to the family and for good fortune. There are three types of dragon lanterns popular in rural villages in Wuyuan. They are plantain lanterns, straw lanterns and osmanthus lanterns. Straw lanterns are lit on the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival. The so-called "straw lanterns" are straw dragons stuck with burning joss sticks. The grand scene is as spectacular as dancing fire dragons.
5.The Ball-Holding Dance of the Gaoshan People
On the night of every Mid-Autumn Festival, the Gaoshan ethnic people in Taiwan traditionally put up beautiful ethnic costumes and gather around the Sun Moon Lake, playing the game of "ball-holding dance" in the moonlight. The colored ball symbolizes the sun and the moon, which is said to have something to do with the legend about the Sun Moon Lake. In the game, people try to keep the colored ball in the air, preventing it from falling to the ground. The game represents their wishes for good weather and banner harvests in the yea
6.Miao Minority - Dance under the Moon
On the Mid-Autumn night when the bright moon sheds light over the Miao villages, after a family gathering in the house, every household will come to a vacant field in the mountain forest to sing and dance under the moon.
According to a legend of Miao ethnic group, the moon was a simple and honest young man who was hardworking and brave. A beautiful lady named Shui Qing fell in love with him despite of proposals made by 99 young men from 99 states. After trials given by the sun, she finally tied the knot with the moon and lived happily ever after. In order to remember their love, every generation of Miao minority will dance under the moon, referring to the custom as "Tiao Yue", or moon dance. The unmarried men and women will look for their love during the dance. Once found, they will express their feelings and vow that their love will stay pure and last like the happiness between the couple - Shui Qing and the moon.