Mid-Autumn Festival is around the corner ! It is on 4th October 2017. Lets celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival together with bright lanterns and sweet mooncakes. Yahoo! Bill the hornbill wishes all Happy Mid-Autumn Festival.
What is Mid-Autumn Festival ? Lets find out more .
The Mid-Autumn Festival
The Mid-Autumn Festival, or known as Mooncake Festival or in Chinese –中秋节. It is a harvest festival celebrated by the Chinese ethnic throughout the world. The festival is held on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar.
It is a night of full moon, where Chinese family gathers around the garden and watch the moon bathed night while eating mooncakes with children holding lantern and walking around.
The meaning of Mid-Autumn festival span deep beyond just mooncakes and lantern. It is the day of gathering and thanksgiving.
The round and bright moon in the sky signify family reunion. Families members from far and near come together and celebrate the festival together. The Chinese culture emphasis on reunion as in a busy farming, commercial and industrial society, family members tends to spread across land and oceans, from the east side of the globe to the west, there is only twice a year where families can have opportunity to meet each other. The main reunion occasions are the Chinese Lunar New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival.
In the theme of reunion, there is a reason why mooncakes are moon shaped or round in shape. Round means goes around and back to the root.
Mid-Autumn is also a time for thanksgiving. It is particularly true in the Northern Hemisphere. In a agriculture society, Mid-Autumn corresponding to the near end of the yearly Harvest. The upcoming winter is cold and not suitable for farming and hence all crops needs to be harvested before winter sets in. Hence Mid-Autumn Festival is also called as Harvest Festival. After the tiring harvest, families gather around and have a thanksgiving reunion.
Mid-Autumn Festival, for some who believe moon worship, is also a time for thanksgiving and praying for conceptual or material satisfaction – such as asking for offspring, partner, beauty, longevity and good future.
Mid-Autumn Festival and Moon Worship
The Chinese have celebrated the harvest during the autumn full moon since the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BCE). The celebration as a festival only started to gain popularity during the early Tang dynasty (618–907 CE). There are many different stories and ancient fable circulates around regarding the festival.
Moon worship is an important part of the festival celebration in the beginning, which some may still practice today. In some areas of china, the customs of Men worship the moon and women offer sacrifices to the kitchen gods.
One of the myths that might explain the origin of moon worship is the myths associates with Chang’e, the Moon Goddess of Immortality. There is few version of the myth, however it still tells the story of how Chang’e become Immortal and resided in the moon after she face a great dilemma and drank a bottle of elixir of immortality. It is a story of sacrifices that had to make when facing a great dilemma.
According to Chinese folklore, the Jade Rabbit was an animal that lived on the moon and accompanied Chang’e. Some speculated because the shadow of the moon surface looks like a rabbit.
However, since the Neil Armstrong had visited the moon and there is no signs of any existence of Chang’e or any known civilizations, neither any rabbits around the moon, the myth is remains as a Chinese folklore.
Mid-Autumn Festival in Modern World
In modern times, Mid-Autumn Festival remains as an occasion for outdoor reunions among friends and relatives to eat mooncakes and watch the moon. It is known to be the brightest of the year, but may still be debatable.
Mid-Autumn Festival Celebration comes in different practices. Some still practice burning incense in reverence to deities including Chang’e. In majority there is features of lantern, floating sky lanterns, lanterns riddle, Mooncakes, dragon and lion dances, Courtship and matchmaking. It is a celebration of fun, enjoyments, and romance.
Lanterns and Mooncakes in the modern world are synonymous to the Festival itself.
Lanterns during the festival does not have a specific origin, but it symbolize celebration, happiness and hope. Lanterns brighten up the dark nights streets and guide the way affront. Modern lanterns can have many shapes and sizes, ranging for traditional paper lantern with burning candles to battery operated figure lanterns.
Floating Sky Lanterns are also been practiced, mainly is for prayers and hope. Floating sky lanterns is usually attached with a message that raise to the above together with the bright burning lanterns.
Mooncakes on the other hand is one of the hallmark of the festival. The round shape of the mooncake symbolize reunion and completeness. The mooncakes is usually sliced into equal divisions and share among the family. As a slice, each member is independent, but as a whole, the family is complete and united. However there are also many other different shape of mooncakes, like the animal-shaped mooncakes, which remains popular with the children.
Some mooncakes are sold in elegant boxes for presentation purposes. This act as a elegant gifts during the festival which can be given to family, friends, relatives and even co-worker and business partner.
Some of the tradition involves eating cassia cakes and candy, and drinking cassia wine (reunion wine).
Mid-Autumn Festival in Malaysia Context
In a country nearing the equator, Malaysia is blessed with year round of rain and sun. There is no worries of cold snowy winter or hot blazing summer.
Malaysian Chinese still celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival because partly it is deep embed in the Chinese culture, but the more importantly is the Family Reunion. The festival reminds us about the important of reunion.
Many are engaging in busy city life, some involve in agriculture, some in business and some in industry. We seldom have time to actually gather around. Even there is modern mobile devices and established connection that try to shorten the distance between family, but the gap is still too far. Hence twice a year family reunion is still observed by many Chinese.
So whatever the reasons of celebrating this wonderful festival, we wish all the Chinese Happy Mid-Autumn Festival. May the reunion of families brings joy and happiness.