The Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, also called the Moon Festival, aimed at celebrating the arrival of the autumn season, is one of the most important festivals in China. According to the Chinese lunar calendar, on the day of the Mid-Autumn Festival the moon is particularly bright and round.
This year, the festival was held on September 27, which corresponds to August 15 on the Chinese lunar calendar.
Although I’m not in China to celebrate this special day with my family, I did not want to forget the traditions and customs of my Chinese background.
History and Legend
The origins of the Moon Festival can be traced back to the ancient Zhou Dynasty (1046-256 BC), when people celebrated the harvest and offered sacrifices to the moon on the festival day. Common people usually celebrated the festival with their friends and families, eating moon cakes and visiting popular “street markets.”
The Chinese Emperor invited guests and concubines to celebrate together at the palace, holding ballets with dragons, classical music, Kung Fu performances, and sky lanterns. All of this was accompanied by wine, food, and, especially, moon cakes.
According to legend, the day of the Mid-Autumn Festival was set to commemorate Chang E’s flight to the moon, and to worship her as goddess of the moon by putting moon cakes and fruit on her altar.
Nowadays, Chinese people still celebrate the Moon Festival. In mainland China, workers and students are given one day off to celebrate with their families.
Obviously, being in Italy, I couldn’t travel with my family on this day since it is not a holiday here. However, I was still excited to spend this special day in Rome with my uncle and aunty, with whom I’ve lived since I was ten.
This year, we decided to celebrate at home and cook by ourselves instead of dining out, because the Moon Festival represents also family unity, an occasion to wish everyone to have a long, healthy, and happy life. At the dining table, moon cakes were the main dishes for us: the round shape represents union and harmony, the chance to spend time with family, which is really rare in our contemporary busy lives.
Along with the family aspect, friends should not be missed as well. At John Cabot, there are some Chinese students, and all of us celebrate this special festival. The Moon Festival was a great opportunity for us to meet up since we’d recently been busy with class quizzes and midterms, but on the day of the mid-Autumn Festival no one had an excuse. We had dinner together, eating moon cakes and observing the moon, which was particularly round on that day even here in Rome!
While this special day represented a family reunion, it was also a friend reunion and a “rest day” for second-generation Italian-Chinese students!
I’m really happy to have widened my “circle of friends” after starting university at JCU. In fact, I didn’t have any Chinese friends before, and I’d never celebrated any special festival with friends. The international environment at JCU has given me the chance to feel at home.
JCU Class of 2016
Hometown: Rome, Italy