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A girl standing in front of a bench of an open-air market and holding ornaments of the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Mid-Autumn Festival

Moon Festival ∼ Harvest Moon Festival ∼ 中秋节 (Zhōngqiū Jié) (ZH) ∼ 추석 (Chuseok) (KO) ∼ 秋夕 (Autumn Eve) (KO) ∼ 月見 (Tsukimi) Moon Watching (JA)

A full moon celebration that is observed notably by numerous countries of the East part of Asia

Upcoming event
2021
Celebrated in
Objerved in
Religious group
Buddhism
Dharma Chakra, widespread symbol used in Indian religions.
Cultural
Multiculturalism symbol, Multicultural Council Of Saskatchewan.

The Mid Autumn Festival is one of the largest and most significant festivals observed in China, South-East and East Asia. It is a movable event that falls on the full moon night on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar, a date that corresponds either to the middle of September or the beginning of October on the Gregorian calendar. The celebration is noticed as Zhongqiujie in China, as Chuseok in North and South Korea and as Tsukimi in Japan. While among others, the core meanings of the festivity include the family gathering and reunion, the thanksgiving for a good harvest, the ancestor memorial, as well as the praying for longevity and good fortune.

The past

The Mid-Autumn Festival in China has its historical roots to the ancient autumn harvest festivals held during the Shang dynasty (1600-1046 BC) and the worshiping related to folk beliefs about the moon’s influence on the Earth and people. According to historians, the Korean Chuseok emerges from ancient shamanic moon celebrations related to harvest, while it is linked to the month-long weaving contests (Gabae) that took place at the period of Silla Kingdom (57 BC-935 AD). The Japanese version of the celebration called Tsukimi (or Otsukimi, or Jugoya) originates from the Chinese Mid-Autumn festival elements introduced in Japan during the Heian period (794 AD-1185 AD). Then, the members of the aristocratic class were used to hold moon-viewing events pursuing to view the moon’s reflection on the water surface. This was a way to express their gratitude for the good harvest and address their hopes for similar results in the future.

The customs & rituals

The Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival includes a series of customs that may differ regionally. The most typical are honoring “incense-burning” rituals to deities, participating in family reunions and watching dragon or lion dance performances, lighting up paper lanterns and of course eating mooncakes, a dense sweet pastry that is one of the main symbols of the feast. Chuseok is a public holiday for South Korea and many offices, banks and stores are closed. The festival is commonly translated as “The Korean Thanksgiving” and many South Koreans are used to visit their families and ancestral homes during the celebration. The ancestor spirits are honored in worshiping rituals that can involve family gatherings, food preparation, and offerings related to the harvest. The Japanese Tsukimi is well-known for the special floral decorations (suzuki flower) and the round rice dumplings (Tsikimi dango) that implicate the beauty of the moon. The harvesting aspect of the festivity is depicted by various offerings to the moon like sweet potatoes, beans, and chestnuts.

Different countries and regions

There is no doubt that there is a great variation on the Mid-Autumn Festival among different countries and regions. Millions of people travel for family reunions, solemn ceremonies, and public celebrations, while the conducted rituals and events reveal multiple aspects of local folklore and tradition. The potential visitor has a unique opportunity to enjoy spectacular events, eat delightful food, and have a genuine cultural and spiritual experience.