Traditions you may not know about Mid-Autumn Festival

By Zhou Bing | (| Updated : 2021-09-18

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Families reunite before the moon at Mid-Autumn Festival. [Photo/VCG] 

Mid-Autumn Festival is the second grandest festival in China after Chinese New Year. It's a time when families come together to appreciate the full moon and eat mooncakes during the festival. In fact, besides these two traditions, there are many others.


People put out offerings to worship the "god of the moon" during Mid-Autumn Festival. [Photo/VCG] 

1. Worshiping the moon

Since ancient times, there has been a tradition of worshiping the moon in Mid-Autumn Festival in China, which stems from the deification of the moon by the ancients.

On that day, people put the "god of the moon" sign, peaches, watermelons, mooncakes and other offerings on a table at home or outdoors, and then knelt down and kowtowed one by one, praying for blessings from the "god of the moon".

Nowadays, this tradition is disappearing. It's rare to see families worshiping the moon in big cities. In some old towns or tourist cities, people will hold a ceremony to worship the moon in a square, park, or street, but this is more like a performance.


Watching the tide is a grand event during Mid-Autumn Festival. [Photo/VCG] 

2. Watching the tide

In ancient times, watching the tide on the Qiantang River in East China's Zhejiang province was another grand event of Mid-Autumn Festival. The tide is very torrential and magnificent and attracts many onlookers.

It had been recorded in detail since the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220). Many famous ancient poets, like Su Shi in the Song Dynasty (960-1279), wrote about the grand occasion in their poems.

Today, watching the tide on the Qiantang River is still a characteristic event for the festival.


People make colorful lanterns to decorate the beautiful night during Mid-Autumn Festival. [Photo/VCG] 

3. Making colorful lanterns

On the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival, the sky is clear as water, and the moon is full and bright like a mirror. People usually make colorful lanterns to decorate the beautiful night.

They make the lanterns in different shapes to be hung on trees or houses, or floated on rivers. Park personnel will hang up colorful lanterns, which provide a beautiful scene at night.

They also make Kongming lanterns, which can fly because the burning candles heat the air in the lantern. Children write good wishes on the lanterns and let them fly up into the sky.


People express the joy of harvest in autumn by burning small pagodas. [Photo/VCG] 

4. Burning pagodas

In some places, burning pagodas during the Mid-Autumn Festival is another tradition.

When night falls, people gather together in an empty place, and pick up broken bricks and tiles to pile up several pagodas, large and small. The pagodas are hollow and are stuffed with firewood.

When all the pagodas are built up, someone will shout, "Ignite the fire!" Then, the firewood in the pagodas is lit, and the red flames rise and sparks explode, through which people express the joy of harvest in autumn.

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