Experience this Exciting Celebration
The Mid-Autumn Festival is a Chinese holiday that has been celebrated for over 3,000 years. It is also known as the Moon Festival, the Mooncake Festival or the Lantern Festival. Traditionally, the holiday is centered around honoring the moon and celebrating the fulfillment of the fall harvest. In modern days, it has become a time for family and friends to gather together, feast on food and drink, light lanterns and give gifts. Let's learn more about the mid autumn festival 2023.
Time of Year
The Autumn Moon Festival takes place on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, which falls on the day of the full moon between the middle of September and early October. This year, in 2023, the autumn festival falls on Friday, Sept. 29. Although also celebrated in other countries, in China, the holiday usually lasts for three days. Because it is a national holiday in China, most people will enjoy at least one day off of work. This year, because the Autumn Moon Festival falls on September 29th and National Day, another Chinese holiday is celebrated from Oct. 1- Oct. 7, Chinese will enjoy eight days full of festivities.
Ways to Celebrate
Similar to Thanksgiving in the United States, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a time for people to gather together with family and friends. Families will often travel to reunite, give thanks, share in traditions and feast on traditional foods.
Home-cooked delicacies are abundant and are prepared with anticipation for the Mid-Autumn Festival. Many of the foods emphasize the bountiful harvest being celebrated, so they often use ingredients such as sweet potatoes, chestnuts and pumpkins. Traditional feasting foods are also incorporated, such as crab and duck.
One of the most iconic foods of the festival is the mooncake. Mooncakes are round pastries (around the size of a hockey puck) that represent the full moon being celebrated and symbolize unity, togetherness and prosperity. Mooncakes can be prepared with either sweet or savory fillings. The savory fillings are often prepared with meat (ham, pork or duck), while the sweet fillings often include sweet nuts or fruit. Mooncakes are such an important and famous part of the celebration that they are often gifted to family, friends and coworkers.
China’s Autumn Moon Festival is also aptly known as the Lantern Festival, as lantern lighting is one of the most notable parts of the celebration. Ornate lanterns are seen all over China during the festival, being lit and carried, placed into the sky or water to float away or hung on streets and buildings. They are symbolic of fertility and prosperity and have come to represent the festival itself.
Best Places to Celebrate
The festival is celebrated throughout Asia; however, with its origins in China, some of the most special places to enjoy the festivities are within China. Consider enjoying the festival’s magic in one of these five places:
Beijing, China’s capital, boasts rich Chinese culture during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Moon watching is one of the most important and traditional parts of the festival, and Beihai Park in Beijing is one of the most popular places to partake in the activity. For generations, Beihai Park was the emperors’ chosen moon-gazing spot during the festival. Now, people enjoy boat rides on the park’s lake to enjoy the bright moon and its reflection on the water.
The Oriental Pearl TV Tower—Shanghai
Shanghai, China’s largest city, has many options for celebrating the Autumn Moon Festival. One of the most unique options is to visit one of Asia’s tallest buildings, The Oriental Pearl TV Tower. You can enjoy shops and cafes within the tower or treat yourself to a revolving-dinner experience at the restaurant halfway up the tower while enjoying fantastic views of the lit-up city and full moon.
Elephant Trunk Hill—Guilin
Guilin, located in southern China, is known for its magical landscape of steep hills, caves and crystalline waters. Along Guilin’s Li River is one of Guilin’s famous tourist destinations, a rocky hill in the shape of an elephant drinking water. It is appropriately named Elephant Trunk Hill. During the full moon on the night of the festival, the moon forms a picturesque view of the water, shining through the space between the elephant’s trunk and legs.
Victoria Park—Hong Kong
One of the most famous traditions during the Mid-Autumn Festival is the lighting of lanterns, which symbolize good fortune, wholeness and family reunion. Lantern lighting takes place all across China, bringing even more light to the full-moon night. One of the biggest lantern carnivals during the festival takes place in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park. The park is filled with festivities, including huge lantern displays, music and dancing. Another grand attraction of the Mid-Autumn Festival is the Tai Hang Fire Dragon, which is built out of rattan, is nearly 70 meters long and is carried by hundreds of people in a procession that ends in Victoria Park.
Three Pools Mirroring the Moon—Hangzhou
Three Pools Mirroring the Moon is an islet located in Hangzhou in the West Lake Scene Area. Here, there are three pagodas or small towers. Each pagoda has five holes. On the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival, locals ride their boats out on the water to place candles in the holes of the pagodas. They cover the holes with paper to create an illuminating effect. Along with the full moon, these candles create a shimmering, magical scene on the water.