The Moon festival (also called the Mooncake or Mid-Autumn festival) falls on the 15th of the eighth lunar month. (The 15th on the lunar calendar is the day of the full moon). This usually occurs in October in the Gregorian calendar. It is the usually the full moon closest to the Autumn equinox.

The moon will appear 12% larger than other times of the year because it is near its perigee, the point on its slightly out-of-round orbit that is closest to Earth.

People celebrate the Mid-Autumn festival with dances, feasting and moon gazing.

There are different versions of the origin of the festival. The most common one is it is celebration of the harvest for the year, like Thanksgiving in the U.S. and fall festivals in other parts of the world.

There are several legends associated with the moon festival. One of the moon fairy living in a crystal palace, who comes out to dance on the moon's shadowed surface.

The traditional food of this festival is the moon cake. A traditional mooncake is filled with lotus seed paste (see side photo). Roughly the size of a human palm, these mooncakes are quite filling, meant to be cut diagonally in quarters and passed around. Today, mooncakes may be filled with everything from dates, nuts, and fruit to Chinese sausages.Today, mooncakes may be filled with everything from dates, nuts, and fruit to Chinese sausages.

Another traditional food is sticky-rice cakes (glutinous rice) wrapped with banana leaf.

Links:
Asian Harvest Moon Festival at about.com
Introduction at ChinaPage.com

last updated 8 Oct 2006