The Mid-Autumn Festival and What it Means to Me
by Emily Tran
The Mid-Autumn Festival, which is held on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, is one of the most significant traditional harvest festivals celebrated by the Chinese and Vietnamese. This year, the Mid-Autumn Festival was celebrated on September 15th. This festival, often referred to as the “Festival of Reunion” and the “Fifteenth of the Eighth Month,” represents reunion. On this day, the moon is typically at its fullest and brightest. Those who celebrate it value this greatly because a full moon symbolizes happiness as well as prosperity. However, for others, the Mid-Autumn Festival symbolizes the time when farmers have full harvests and have just finished gathering their crops.
During the Mid-Autumn Festival, those who celebrate come together to appreciate the full moon and eat mooncakes. Mooncakes are traditional Chinese pastries that are typically made from egg, meat, dried pumpkin seed, peanut, dried fruit, and consists of a thick filling either made from lotus seed paste or red bean.However, it may vary somewhat for the different parts of Asia that celebrate the festival. This celebration allows families to come together to enjoy each other's presence and the full moon. Children are able to make colorful paper lanterns and either perform or watch the lion dances with their families. Families sit together outside to view the full moon and worship it.
As someone of Vietnamese descent, I have looked forward to this festival every year as it has played a large impact on my life and is an important part of my culture. To me, the Mid-Autumn Festival, or Tet Trung Thu in Vietnamese, not only represents a time for my family to get together, but it also is marks the beginning of fall. Every year, my parents would take me to my grandparents’ house to give them Banh Trung Thu—boxes of mooncakes—usually filled with lotus seeds, ground beans, orange peels, and a yoke that symbolizes the full moon. During this time when my family and I would visit my grandparents, I would express my gratitude for my grandparents, show respect to them, and offer them fruits such as bananas, logan, mangos, grapefruit, etc. My family would also watch the dragon dances, see people with clown, prince, and princess masks performing in the dances, and carry the carp-shaped lanterns around the streets.
Although there are various customs that people enjoy during this festival, all are able to come together to celebrate the presence of the full moon and have hope for a better, happier life.