The Mooncake Festival

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Fall is speeding by, and the Mid-Autumn Festival has just passed. Many are not aware of this festival celebrated in some Asian cultures. The Mid-Autumn Festival, pronounced in Chinese Zhong Qiu Jie (中秋節), is also known as the Mooncake Festival. This celebration is named the Mid-Autumn Festival because it falls on the fifteenth day which is the midpoint of the month. The timing is also signified by the eighth lunar month, which falls in the middle of autumn.

This tradition can be traced back 2,000 years to East Asian countries devoting the entire day to thanking the gods.

Most scholars believed that the Mid-autumn Festival first appeared during the Song dynasty, derived from the tradition of worshipping the moon. Legends associated with the full moon became attached to this festival. It was during the reign of Emperor Tai (Northern Song dynasty) that the 15th day of the eighth month was designated as mid-autumn’s day,” scholar Bonny Tan stated.

Places with a large Asian population hold a festival every year on Oct. 4. Some may associate the event only with Chinese culture, but many countries have been influenced by this day.

Celebrations tend to last all day, but most people find the most excitement happens during the night time. People gather together to light lanterns. Throughout the celebration an onlooker can see hundreds of lanterns lined up around the festival. Dragon and lion dances are performed as popular entertainment.

This public event draws people of many ages and different backgrounds. Attending the festival is an unparalleled experience, but the most important aspect of the Mid-Autumn holiday is the time you spend with your family and friends. Next year, find a festival and experience the sights, sounds and learn about Chinese traditions.


All this talk of the celebration brings about the question, “What is eaten during the Mooncake Festival?” During this holiday, a giant feast is usually prepared with the family’s favorite foods. Courses like roasted duck and roasted pork are among a handful of popular dishes. Of course, one absolutely cannot celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival without eating a Mooncake. 

A Mooncake (yue bing  -月餅)  is a traditional Chinese pastry. It is in a circular shape, and it symbolizes reunion and happiness. The mooncake comes in many flavors: red bean, lotus seed, green tea, chocolate, fruit and ice cream. People often give mooncakes as gifts when visiting family or friends around Mid-Autumn. Would you like to try one?

Fun Fact: 19 September 2013 (Shanghai, China) Largest mooncake was made weighing at 5,502.74 lbs!


Some students of Maryville weighed in on their celebration experiences: 

  1. What is favorite experience?
  2. What is your favorite mooncake?



Grace, actuarial science major

“In this festival, my whole family will be together to celebrate. We will eat moon cake and watch the tv shows of Mid-Autumn Festival at home.”

“My favorite is Snow Skin Mooncake 冰皮月饼. It is a mooncake that is filled with sweet mung bean, and is served cold.”

Sean Wei, business major

“My favorite experience is eating more than 10 mooncakes during the festival. I regretted it, but it was very memorable.”

“My favorite flavor is five kernel mooncake.”

The Mid-Autumn Festival was celebrated in St. Louis. Photo courtesy of Francis Lo.

More info:

Tan, Bonny (1998). Mid-autumn Festival (Zhong Qiu Jie. http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/infopedia/articles/SIP_804_2005-01-13.html

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