Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

Celebrating China’s Mid-Autumn Festival and What it Means

Posted by w_thames_the_d on September 21, 2010


China is about to celebrate one of her nearest and dearest holidays, its called the mid-autmn festival and in China, its one of my favorites. Let me take some time and explain its significance to you. After all, I have been here for three years and usually ask quite a few questions about the place and its culture, so here goes…

Well to be honest, I am not quite sure what the damned festival is about, and quite honestly it has nothing to do with ignorance or lack of trying, its just hte darned Chinese dont seem to know. Of course I could Google it or do a wiki search (here is answer to what it really is about), but to me, wiki is to be saved for special things or things I could not conceivably figure out using my own devices-(you know , questions like when will China democratize)…… But after living here, one would assume that finding a simple answer to such a question would be quite easy, but alas it is not.
Ok, so in modern times what this day means is a lot of happy Chinese who run around and give each other gifts of these delicious things called moon cakes that are round and have eggs and such inside. The streets are packed, and cars fill the roads and everyone seems to have forgotten about the misery in their lives and are at peace.
The history of the festival is a little more sketchy, but based on what I have been told by real Chinese, here goes…
It is a festival for a day when some guy or a deity or a lady fell in love with a mortal. The two couldnt get togthet to ‘knock boots’ because he was on the moon and she was here. Or maybe he came to visit and her parents were pissed cuz he lived on the moon or that he didnt own a home (to the Chinese this is a sin), or something like that. So the guy had to go back to the moon, but I guess he loved her so much he either killed himself or froze his face on the moon and that is why the moon cakes look the way they do.
Confused? So am I, I have even been told that Chinese movies regarding the day all have different endings, so there seems to be quite a bit of ambiguity about the day.
I guess we can summarize it by saying that the day is a day to give and receive gifts and eat a lot,,, which makes it pretty similar to most other festivals in China.

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