|The Mid-Autumn Festival (zhōng qiū jié), also known as the Moon Festival, is a popular East Asian celebration of abundance and togetherness, dating back over 3,000 years to China's Zhou Dynasty. In Malaysia and Singapore, it is also sometimes referred to as the Lantern Festival or Mooncake Festival. The Chinese Lantern Festival is held on the 15th day of the first lunar month.
The Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month of the Chinese calendar (usually around mid- or late-September in the Gregorian calendar), a date that parallels the Autumn Equinox of the solar calendar. This is the ideal time, when the moon is at its fullest and brightest, to celebrate the abundance of the summer's harvest. The traditional food of this festival is the mooncake, of which there are many different varieties.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the two most important holidays in the Chinese calendar (the other being the Chinese Lunar New Year), and is a legal holiday in several countries. Farmers celebrate the end of the summer harvesting season on this date. Traditionally, on this day, Chinese family members and friends will gather to admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon, and eat moon cakes and pomeloes together. Accompanying the celebration, there are additional cultural or regional customs, such as:
- Eating moon cakes outside under the moon
- Putting pomelo rinds on one's head
- Carrying brightly lit lanterns
- Burning incense in reverence to deities including Chang'e
- Planting Mid-Autumn trees
- Collecting dandelion leaves and distributing them evenly among family members
- Lighting lanterns on towers
- Fire Dragon Dances
Shops selling mooncakes, before the festival, often display pictures of Chang'e floating to the moon.