Mid-Autumn Festival History
The Mid-Autumn Festival began in the early years of the Tang dynasty (618-907), but the word "mid-autumn" actually appeared in an ancient book over 3,000 years ago.
Let's travel through time and get to know the long history of the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Zhou Dynasty (1066–221 BC): Ceremony to Greet Winter and to Sacrifice to the Moon Goddess
- First Appearance: The word "mid-autumn" first appeared in the famous ancient book Zhou Li (The Zhou Rituals, a book outlining the rituals of the Zhou Dynasty).
- Upper-Class Ceremony: Ceremonies for sacrificing to the moon were more commonly attended by high officials and rich families, on the day of the Autumn Equinox.
- Solemn affair: The mood of the festival at that time was not the same as today, the event was then a much more solemn affair.
Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD): An Increasingly Prevalent Festival
- Ceremony for Everyone: The practice of moon worship became conventional for ordinary people.
- Moon Appreciation Began: As well as attending to the more serious business of offering sacrifices to the moon, people began to appreciate the moon, gazing routinely at the night sky.
- Date Changed: The date of the festival changed from the Autumn Equinox to the day closest to the full moon, namely the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar.
- Mooncakes Began to Be Eaten: People began eating mooncakes. (Some historians believe this only started during the Yuan dynasty, 1271–1368 AD.)
Song Dynasty (960–1279 AD): An Established Festival
- Fixed Date: The 15th day of the 8th lunar month was fixed as the Mid-Autumn Festival date.
- Customs: Everyone dressed up and burnt incense, praying for the moon's blessing.
- Mooncakes as Gifts: People exchanged gifts of mooncakes, symbolizing reunion.
- Fine Art of Mooncake Making: The production of mooncakes became a fine art; delicate and exotic mooncakes began to be produced.
Ming (1368–1644 AD) and Qing (1644–1911 AD) Dynasties: One of the Main Festivals in China
- New Customs: Releasing Sky Lanterns and watching fire-dragon dances.
- Major Festival: The Mid-Autumn Festival became nearly as famous as the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year).