Mid-Autumn Festival (Zhong Qiu Jie): Traditions, Greetings, Food

Written by Matteo Updated Mar. 16, 2023

Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节 zhōng qiū jié) is also called the Mooncake Festival or the Moon Festival. It is an essential traditional festival in China.

Besides China, it is also celebrated by many other countries in Asia, such as Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea. People celebrate the festival by gathering with families, eating traditional foods, lighting lanterns, and appreciating the moon.

In 2024, the Mid-Autumn Festival falls on September 17, 2024.

Mid-Autumn Festival
Mid-Autumn Festival (Zhong Qiu Jie)

What Is the Mid-Autumn Festival?

Mid-Autumn Festival is the second most important traditional festival in China after the Chinese New Year. The main essence of the Mid-Autumn Festival focuses on family, prayers, and thanksgiving.

Read more fun facts on Top 16 Things You Might Not Know about the Mid-Autumn Festival.

When Is the Mid-Autumn Festival 2024

The Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th month in the Chinese lunar calendar. The date of the Mooncake Festival changes every year on the Gregorian calendar, usually distributed between early September and early October.

Mid-Autumn Festival 2024 falls on the 17th of September, Tuesday. Chinese people will have a 3-day holiday from September 15 to September 17.

Mid-autumn festival 2024

Read more on the Mid-Autumn Festival Date.

How to Celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival?

Customs of the Mid-Autumn Festival in China focus on thanksgiving, praying, and family reunions. Here are the top 6 ways to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival in China.

Traditions of the Mid-Autumn
Mid-Autumn Traditions: Top 6 Ways to Celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival in China

1. Reuniting with Family

The Mid-Autumn Festival is a big day for family reunions. People will go back home and get together with their families. This tradition is much like Thanksgiving in the United States. People will share a fantastic meal to enjoy this family reunion time.

2. Admiring the Full Moon

The full moon symbolizes a family reunion, reminding people of their hometowns and loved ones. After the family reunion dinner, people will go outdoors to admire the full moon on the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival.

3. Eating Moon Cakes

The Mid-Autumn Festival is also known as the Mooncake Festival. The cakes, typically round, symbolizing the full moon, are presented as gifts to relatives and friends. The moon cake is a must-eat food at the Mid-Autumn Festival.

4. Lighting and Hanging up Lanterns

Hanging up lanterns is called 竖中秋 (shù zhōng qiū) in Chinese. Chinese people believe the higher the lanterns are hung, the luckier the family will be. 

Every Mid-Autumn Festival, lantern carnivals, and exhibitions will be hung in parks and other public places, during which lanterns of various colors, patterns, and styles are on display. The entire area is decorated with beautiful lighting.

5. Guessing Lantern Riddles

Besides hanging lanterns outside, Chinese people usually write some interesting riddles on the lanterns and have other people try to guess the answers. Nowadays, some Chinatown or Southeast Asian countries would hold lantern riddle contests on Mid-Autumn night.

6. Worshiping the Moon

Chinese people believed the moon governed all vital changes, especially the harvest of grain. Therefore, people will put a table outside under the moon on the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival. Then burn incense, put moon cakes and fruits as sacrifices on the table, face the moon, and pray for fortune.

Worshiping the Moon at the Mid-Autumn Festival
Worshiping the Moon at the Mid-Autumn Festival

Want to know more interesting Mid-Autumn activities? Read the Mid-Autumn Festival traditions in China.

Besides those traditions in China, other Asian countries have their unique customs regarding the Mid-Autumn Festival.

For example, the Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam is named Tết Trung Thu. It is also known as a Children’s Festival. During the festival, parents will accompany their children and give them lanterns or masks as gifts. Most gifts are made by hand rather than bought at shops. Children would light lanterns and join the lion dance at the Mid-Autumn Festival.

What to Eat During the Mooncake Festival?

Moon cakes are the must-eat food during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Shaped like a full moon, the moon cake is round, it symbolizes family reunion and happiness.

The moon cake typically has pastry skin and rich fillings like bean pastes, yolks, nuts, and roast pork. It tastes savory, sweet, and salty.

Besides moon cakes, people eat ducks, pumpkins, pomelos, and crabs during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Some of them bring good luck and some are seasonal food in autumn.

There is a total of 12 dishes most Chinese people would eat during the Moon Festival, read Mid-Autumn Festival Food and you will know the reasons.

How to Say Happy Mid-Autumn Festival in Chinese?

happy mid-autumn festival image

People usually send Mid-Autumn Festival cards or messages to family and friends on this grand occasion. Here are the top 3 popular Mid-Autumn Festival greetings.

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival

Happy Mooncake Festival

Happy Moon Festival

mid-autumn festival greeting card
Mid-Autumn Festival Greeting Card

Mid-Autumn Festival Story

There are quite a few stories associated with the Mid-Autumn Festival, the most popular are the legend of the Chang'e, Jade Rabbit, and Wu Gang. Some of them are tragic but romantic, and some of them are interesting and instructive.

Mid-Autumn Festival Story

Read the top 3 popular stories of the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Mid-Autumn Festival History

The Mid-autumn Festival boasts a history of over 3,000 years. The festival was first celebrated to give thanks for the bountiful harvests in autumn.

In ancient times, Chinese emperors used to worship and offer sacrifices to the full moon for the harvests. Afterward, noblemen and poets would admire the moon at the Mid-Autumn Festival, expressing their thoughts and feelings. Ordinary people would gather with family and enjoy food and the harvest season.

Mid-Autumn Festival History

Read more about the Mid-Autumn Festival's Origin and History.

Top China Cities to Visit during the Moon Festival

The Mid-Autumn Festival usually falls in September or October, which is the best time to visit China. The weather is ideal to spend time out of doors and enjoy the sight of the golden autumn.

The customs of the Mid-Autumn Festival vary across China, there are different ways to celebrate it. Why not start your tour in China by exploring the mystery of the Mid-Autumn Festival?

We've listed the top 8 places for you to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival in China.

Travel Tips for the Mid-Autumn Festival Holiday

1. Book transportation and accommodation in advance. Many Chinese people will travel during this public holiday, and tickets and hotels are in high demand.

2. Buy some authentic festival gifts. The mooncakes and Chinese lanterns are good choices.

3. Experience some festival activities like eating moon cakes, admiring the moon, making colorful lanterns, and watching dragon dances.

Read more useful travel tips for the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday.

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