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Mid-Autumn Festival: A moonlit celebration

Mid-Autumn Festival: A moonlit celebration

It's the day for families to come together to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Mooncake Festival! This ancient festival is steeped in rich history and culture, which is a splendid opportunity for you to introduce your children to this vibrant tradition. In this article, we'll embark on a journey to discover the origins of the festival and explore how it’s celebrated differently across various Asian countries!

Origins of Mid-Autumn Festival

The Mid-Autumn Festival, or 中秋节 (zhōng qiū jié) in Mandarin, has a history spanning over a whopping 3,000 years! Its roots can be traced back to ancient China during the Shang Dynasty (商朝), where it was initially celebrated as a harvest festival. However, the festival as we know it today gained prominence during the Tang Dynasty (唐朝), between 618 AD to 907 AD.

One of the most enduring and popular legends associated with the festival is the story of Hou Yi (后羿), a legendary archer who saved the earth by shooting down 9 of the 10 suns that once scorched the planet. As a reward, he was given the elixir of immortality by Xiwangmu (西王母), a mother goddess in Chinese religion and mythology, but he didn't want to become immortal without his wife, Chang'e (嫦娥). When his apprentice, Feng Meng (逢蒙), tried to steal the elixir, Chang'e swallowed it and floated to the moon.

As Hou Yi missed his wife, he made offerings to her on the full moon of each 8th lunar month that consisted of her favourite fruits and cakes, which eventually birthed the tradition of worshipping the moon during this festival.

How it’s celebrated in different Asian countries

1. China: Mooncakes and lanterns

In the land where the festival was born, the celebration is centred around mooncakes, which are round pastries enrobing various fillings such as lotus paste and salted egg yolks, that symbolise unity and completeness. Families gather to enjoy these delectable treats whilst admiring the full moon. Lighting intricately designed lanterns is a highlight, as children parade through the streets with colourful ones, creating a magical atmosphere.

2. Taiwan: Lanterns galore

In Taiwan, they add a unique twist by celebrating with both traditional lanterns and sky lanterns (天灯, tiān dēng). These lanterns, often made of rice paper, are lit and released into the night sky, carrying wishes and hopes for the future. It's a mesmerising sight as countless lanterns illuminate the darkness, a metaphor for lighting up one's life.

3. Vietnam: Children's Festival

In Vietnam, the Mid-Autumn Festival which is known as Tết Trung Thu, is primarily focused on children. Colourful lanterns shaped like animals or characters from folklore are carried through the streets, and children are adorned with masks and costumes. The atmosphere is filled with traditional lion and dragon dances, creating an enchanting experience for the little ones.

4. Korea: Chuseok

Koreans celebrate a similar holiday called Chuseok (추석, which translates to ‘autumn evening’), which falls around the same time as the Mid-Autumn Festival. Families come together to pay respects to their ancestors, share a feast of traditional dishes, and play folk games like tug-of-war. The festival emphasises gratitude and harmony.

5. Singapore: A cultural melting pot

In Singapore, the Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated with a unique blend of traditions from various Asian cultures! Families and friends come together to enjoy mooncakes and tea, light lanterns and sparklers, and simply spend time together.


The Mid-Autumn Festival is a time for families to connect with their roots and appreciate the rich tapestry of Asian cultures. By sharing the festival's history and traditions with your kids, you not only create lasting memories but also instil a sense of cultural pride and understanding. Happy Mid-Autumn Festival to all that celebrate it!

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