Pop Cultured: Mid-Autumn festival across Asia


Soon we will begin to welcome the fall holidays in America. In this week’s column we will look at a holiday that is celebrated across Asia.  

According to China Highlights, the Mid-Autumn Festival originated over 3,000 years ago in China. Mid-Autumn Festival is a holiday celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. This means the Mid-Autumn Festival is usually celebrated during September or early October in the Gregorian calendar. This year’s holiday fell on Thursday, Oct. 1.  

The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of China’s most celebrated holidays. The holiday was created to honor the fall harvest. In China, people would often eat mooncakes, light lanterns and reunite with family. Many would go outside to appreciate the full moon because that is when the moon is at its brightest. Even though the holiday originates in China, the Mid-Autumn Festival is also celebrated in other Asian countries, including Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines, as described in Travel Guide China

Despite how different Asian countries may celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, one commonality shared among many countries is the tradition of eating mooncakes. Mooncakes are a pastry that commonly resembles the full moon in shape and has a pie-like crust with a filling varying from bean paste, to lotus paste, to salted egg yolk or even other options. Mooncakes are typically enjoyed in slices with tea.  

orange cookie with flowers on white ceramic plate
Despite the various ways of celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival, the traditions of the Mooncake pastry is one that is shared among many Asian countries.Photo by Streetwindy on Pexels.com

According to Travel Guide China, Chinese descendants often celebrate the holiday in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. It stated that they all celebrate the holiday similarly to the Chinese, with traditions such as eating mooncakes, going to parades and family reunions.  

Vietnam, Thailand, Japan and South Korea all have different names for the festival and various activities. In Vietnam, the Mid-Autumn Festival is called Têt Trung Thu. They share similar activities, like eating mooncakes and eating dinner with families, but it is generally considered a children’s holiday. Festivities include a kid’s garden party, where children go trick-or-treating and receive gifts from their parents. In Thailand, people worship and send a birthday greeting to a Buddhist god. People tend to give peach-shaped cakes while praying and worshipping the moon, according to Travel Guide China.   

A brief informational video regarding the celebration of Tsukimi in Japan Video retrieved via YouTube.

In Japan, the Mid-Autumn Festival is called Tsukimi. Traditions include appreciating the full moon while eating Tsukimi Dango, a rice dumpling dessert. Japanese people also decorate their houses with pampas grass and flowers. However, according to Travel Guide China, many of the young generations in the country do not celebrate Tsukimi anymore.  

In South Korea, the Mid-Autumn Festival is called Chuseok. Koreans consider it a Korean Thanksgiving. In South Korea, people also see this holiday as a big celebration where Koreans reunite with their family, wear traditional outfits, worship ancestors and give gifts. During Chuseok, Koreans eat and make seongpyeon, a dessert made from rice flour. 

“In the past, we used to have barbeques to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival,” said Helen Young, a first-semester Chinese-American who is majoring in chemistry, said. “I am not upset about not celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival this year, it was just nice to celebrate it with family last year.”  

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