Mid-Autumn Moon Festival Celebration with Young Children: History, Inspirations, and More
As the bright full moon shine, and stars twinkle in the night sky, we wish you and family a merry Mid-Autumn Festival with great happiness worldwide! It is the harvest festival, celebrating in most East Asian countries – from China, Taiwan, Korea, Philippines, to Vietnam in past history. The festival happens to land on September 21st (Tuesday) this year. It is the second most important festival in Asia, after the Chinese Lunar New Year's. The festival reflect on values of family reunion and peace, which we foster this culture and relationship with our young students. We are introducing from mooncake tasting, tea ceremony, playing musical instruments, to making lantern crafts as part of the hand-on sensory experience in the classroom this week. There will be story-time on the well-known historical folktale on Chang'e Flying to the Moon (嫦娥奔月), featuring Chang'e and Hou Yi legendary heroes. Story versions are available in Chinese or English that inspire others to share the tale as part of the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival (中秋節, pronunciation: zhōngqiū jié) traditions from thousands of years ago.
History of the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival
The Mid-Autumn Festival has a long history of over 3,000 years. It had originated from the custom of worshipping the moon during the Zhou Dynasty (1046 - 256 BC). The custom of the Moon Festival was mainly shaped in the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907). The Festival have became popular after the Song Dynasty (960 - 1279). Nowadays, it's the second important festival in China.
Mid-Autumn Festival Originated in the Zhou Dynasty
(1046 - 256 BC)
The Mid-Autumn Festival originated from the worship of celestial phenomena. It evolved from the worship of the moon in autumn in ancient times. Ancient Chinese emperors have offered sacrifices to the moon in autumn to pray for a good harvest in the coming year. Later, nobles and officials followed it, and it gradually spread to the ordinary people.
Earliest Written Record of "Mid-Autumn" Appeared in Han Dynasty
(202 BC – 220 AD)
The term "Mid-Autumn" first appeared in the Confucian classic Rites of Zhou (周礼), written in the Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD). It is a book outlining the rituals of the Zhou Dynasty. At that time, the word "Mid-Autumn" was only related to the time and season instead of festival.
Moon Festival Became an Official Festival in Tang Dynasty
(618 – 907)
Tang Dynasty (618 – 907) is an important period for the Mid-Autumn Festival. The custom of it was mainly shaped in the Tang Dynasty, admiring the moon at the local Mid Autumn Festivals. Many poets wrote poems about event occurrences at the Festival.
Fixed the Date of Mid-Autumn Festival in Song Dynasty
In the Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127), the 15th day of the 8th lunar month was established as the Mid-Autumn Festival. It transition into popular folk-styled festival for locals to participate.
Eat Moon Cakes in Ming Dynasty
It is said that the custom of eating moon cakes at the Mid-Autumn Festival began in the Tang Dynasty. However, moon cakes were popular in the palace and later spread to the locals by the Northern Song Dynasty. It became a common food custom for many provinces during the Ming Dynasty. Moon cakes were only eaten at the Mid-Autumn Festival, which was the main offering of moon sacrifice popular among the locals.
Became Major Chinese Festival from Ming and Qing Dynasties
(1368 – 1912)
During the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) and the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1912), Mid-Autumn Festival has become one of the important festivals in China. There were different ways to celebrate this festival, such as playing clay rabbit, make lanterns, and married wives return home to visit their parents every year.
Moon Festival Became a Public Holiday
Since 2008, Chinese locals have long weekend of 3-day holiday break. During the short break, they enjoy family or friend reunions for delicious feasts at home. Nowadays, it's the second important festival in China, and many parts of Asian communities around the world.