Moon Festival, ancient traditions in the moonlight

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Moon Festival, ancient traditions in the moonlight

In Asia, Moon Festival is among the most important traditions after Chinese New Year. In 2017, October 4th will launch festivities for more than 3 billion people.

Moon Festival, ancient traditions in the moonlight

Moonstruck!

The date wasn't randomly chosen. It is based on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. On that night, the moon will be radiant – full, round and glowing, a celestial show that will please numerous Asian people all around the world. From Beijing to London and New York, the moon goddess shall be honoured! The origins of this ancient celebration are multiple: it was an agricultural feast associated to the past year's harvest, but first and foremost a tribute to Chang'e, the Moon Goddess. In Chinese mythology, legend has it that on the full moon, Chang'e would see her former husband Hou Yi still down on Earth from her Selenite palace. And vice versa… So, on October 4th, get ready to admire the silver star. Chang'e may just be in your sights!

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Moon Festival, ancient traditions in the moonlight

Family first!

In Chinese culture, the full moon symbolises peace and prosperity. Moon Festival celebrations therefore take place among close ones. Families gather around a meal, generally made of a whole fish, followed by famous Peking duck and moon-shaped bo bing pancakes. As night falls, festivities begin. Young and old alike invade public parks to gaze at the full moon while drinking tea and sharing treats, especially red bean or lotus paste-filled mooncakes. A genuine moment of happiness, when children launch colourful lanterns in the sky, spinning and shining around the queen of the night. As lunar a show as can be!

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Moon Festival, ancient traditions in the moonlight

Sweet or savoury, choose your favourite mooncake

The mooncake, or yuebing, is a major constituent of the celebration. This small round treat has delighted palates since 700 A.D., when it was created. Still very much in fashion, it covers tables and delights families, though the recipe varies from one region to the next – like Xuzhou's yuebing, a crispy biscuit filled with five pips, a red bean paste and some pork meat. In Beijing, it is cooked in oil and filled with dried fruits and red bean paste. In the Guangdong province and its capital Guangzhou, the speciality is filled with coconut, lotus seed paste, five pips, egg yolk, chicken and ham. Constantly renewed, this pastry is an inspiration for numerous cooks… Even French pastry chef Pierre Hermé has made his contribution, creating four coloured mooncakes delicately flavoured.

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Moon Festival, ancient traditions in the moonlight

Focus on habits and customs

Moon Festival is a Chinese tradition that spread over many countries throughout the Asian continent. Over centuries, they added their touch and culture… In Vietnam for instance, it is called Têt trung thu. During this magical day, cities shine bright, offer puppet shows and film screenings, along with various offerings. In Korea, families gather for three days around a meal, partake in dances and play mah-jong under the moonlight. In Thailand, people take a moment to recollect: longevity peaches (another Chinese type of lotus seed bun) and mooncakes are disposed all over, in memory of the bodhisattva of compassion and the Eight Immortals. During the Japanese festival of tsukimi, inhabitants gather to look at the moon with feasting on rice dumplings and other treats.

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Moon Festival, ancient traditions in the moonlight

Moonsensical!

Inspired by the Moon Festival, Full Moon parties were created in Thailand in the 1980s. Each month when the moon is full, thousands of young people gather on the beach wearing colourful clothes to dance to techno music, in a cosmopolitan and psychedelic atmosphere! The party is in full swing until the very end of the night, when the moon finally makes way for the sun. The most popular Full Moon takes place on the Koh Phangan island, sometimes attracting more than 30,000 participants all thrown in this giant elixir of youth. A gigantic nightclub by the seaside, on cloud nine!