Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th month according to the Chinese Lunar calendar, which is on Sunday the 27th of September this year. The Mid-Autumn Festival is the second grandest festival after the Spring Festival in China. It takes its name from the fact that it is always celebrated in the middle of the autumn season (spring in Australia). The day is also known as the Moon Festival, as at that time of the year the moon is at its roundest and brightest.
Moon Festival is an inherited custom of moon sacrificial ceremonies. The ancient Chinese observed that the movement of the moon had a close relationship with changes of the seasons and agricultural production. Hence, to express their thanks to the moon and celebrate the harvest, they offered a sacrifice to the moon on autumn days.
This custom could be traced back to the Zhou Dynasty (1046 – 256 BC) and was more often practiced by the royal class on the Autumnal Equinox. At that time, the custom had no festival background at all. Later in the Sui (581 – 618 AD) and Tang (618 – 907 AD) dynasties, social prosperity inspired the custom of appreciating the moon on the moon sacrifice ceremony day among common people and the two merged. The people expressed their faith more liberally than the royal class and so they did not strictly hold their activities on the Autumnal Equinox. So August 15th of the Chinese lunar calendar, the closest full moon day to the Autumnal Equinox, turned out to be a better choice and was set as a fixed festival. This happened in the Tang Dynasty. By the time of the Northern Song Dynasty (960 – 1127 AD), Mid-Autumn Festival had already become a widely celebrated folk festival.
Romantically speaking, the festival is to commemorate Chang Ele, who in order to protect her beloved husband’s elixir, ate it herself and flew to the moon. There are many other legends and stories related to this grand festival. The most well-known ones include Jade Rabbit Pounding Medicine, Wu Gang Chopping Laurel Tree, and Zhu Yuanzhang and the Moon Cake Uprising.
On the festival day, family members gather to offer sacrifice to the moon, appreciate the bright full moon, eat moon cakes, and express strong yearnings toward family members and friends who live afar. Moreover, there are some other customs like playing lanterns, and dragon and lion dances in some regions.
The moon cakes are round, symbolizing the reunion of a family, so it is easy to understand how the eating of moon cakes under the round moon can evoke longing for distant relatives and friends. Nowadays, people present moon cakes to relatives and friends to demonstrate that they wish them a long and happy life. Most of Australian Chinese people as well celebrating this moon festival with their families and friends. Big varieties of moon cakes can be found from local Chinese grocery shops, even at Coles and Woolworth.
September in Australia is the beginning of the spring season, the month of yin-wood-rooster in yin-wood-goat year. Both year stand and month stand are yin-wood that synergizes the yin-wood energy, brings us very beautiful weather in this September. Our local economy also will be warmed up to grow, better than the crash-month in August. Property market, fashion retail, education business, event and tour business will be likely benefitted.
In such beautiful season of the year, our AFSC family in most states will be getting together and perhaps share a moon cake to celebrate the moon festival.
We look forward to receiving moon cake photos from you to share the happiness and success on the AFSC facebook page with others.
Wish you and your family a very auspicious life; enjoy the beautiful season of the year!
Vice President of AFSC