Mid-Autumn Has The Brightest Moon

19:47' 14-09-2017
It is spring in Australia, but in Asia people are about to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, or Harvest Moon, on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Asian calendar. In 2017 this takes place on Wednesday October 4th.

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    Moon Goddess Chang E

    The date is traditionally the time rice is supposed to mature and be harvested, so people use this festival as an opportunity to celebrate the harvest and to show their gratitude. It is believed the moon is at its roundest and brightest at this time, symbolizing togetherness and reunion in Chinese culture, so it is also a time for families to get together.

    Food

    The best known custom is eating Mooncakes, pastries which consist of a thin tender skin wrapping a sweet, dense filling of mixed nuts and seeds and roast pork, red bean paste, lotus seed paste, even chocolate, green tea or cream cheese. Mooncakes used to be made at home, but most people buy them from the shops now.

    Drinking Osmanthus Flower Wine for a happy life is even older than the festival, because at this time the osmanthus flowers are in full bloom. 

    It is also the custom to eat pumpkins for good health, river snails to brighten the eyes, or taro for good luck. Duck and hairy crab are also popular delicacies at this festival.

    Appreciating the Moon

    The full moon is the symbol of family reunion. Chinese people like to find a place with a great view of the moon, such as the roof, a balcony, a mountaintop, or a lakeside. On the West Lake in Hangzhou there is an area called San Tan Yin Yue, “Three Ponds Mirroring the Moon”. At Mid-Autumn Festival, candles are lit on three pagodas, and reflections of the candlelight and the moonlight mingle with each other. People go out on the lake in boats to appreciate the picturesque scene.

    Making Colourful Lanterns

    Children make colourful lanterns of different shapes, resembling animals, plants, or flowers, to hang in trees or houses, or floated on rivers, or in parks. One type, the Kongming lanterns, can fly because burning candles heat the air in them. Children write good wishes on the lanterns and let them fly up into the sky.

    Vanishing customs

    Some customs have disappeared or are very rare. In Tianjin's “crab crawl”, people put small candles or oil twists on crabs' backs, then let them loose in the yard to observe their movements. If most of the crabs stay inside the courtyard, it means the family would enjoy fortune and wealth.

    Another Chinese belief was that if a woman touched a pumpkin, she would give birth to a boy, as, in Chinese, the first characters of pumpkin and boy are the same. If she touched beans, she would give birth to a girl, because beans represent the eyebrows of a beautiful girl. On Mid-Autumn night, childless women went to other people's fields to “steal” pumpkins and beans.

    Korean Chusok

    Koreans celebrate the Harvest Moon Festival, “Chusok”, for three days, to thank their ancestors for the year's harvest. Traditional celebrations usually include a visit to clean and clear graves, and make food offerings. A shrine to family ancestors is set up, with stacks of fresh fruit and nuts, alcohol, and savory dishes.

    The traditional food eaten at Chusok is a special rice flour cake called “songpyun”. It is shaped like a half moon, and stuffed with sesame seeds andr chestnuts sweetened with honey. Songpyun are steamed with pine needles.

    Families get together to feast, and play traditional board or card games together. These days, families may also watch movies and play modern games.

    Outdoor activities are also popular during Chusok, sometimes involving whole villages. Noltigi is  a popular activity in which the participants, usually women, stand up on opposite sides of a long seasaw board and are launched high in the air. Kite flying, archery, and wrestling are also popular.  In the evening children dance in a circle under the moon, and women perform the Gang gang sullae  circle dance, which gets faster and faster to become a whirl of colour.

    Liu W

     

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Keywords: asian calendaraustraliamid-autumn festival

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