Celebrating Seasonal Change And The Moon During The Mid-Autumn Festival
The leaves are beginning to fall, the days are getting shorter, and the moon seems to be glowing a bit brighter. We’re slowly transitioning from summer to autumn -- a time that traditionally celebrates the summer’s last harvest.
The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, celebrates this seasonal change. The festival originated in China, but similar full moon traditions are practiced across East and Southeast Asia. From eating round-shaped mooncakes to lighting lanterns, this time is set aside for being with loved ones.
Michelle Liang is a board member of the women’s club for the Milwaukee Chinese Community Center. She says the festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar.
"During this time of the year, the moon is believed to be the fullest and the brightest," she says. "And it’s also a time for the family reunion, because in the Chinese culture, the full moon symbolizes reunion."
Folklore and stories are widely shared around festival time. One of the most well-known is about a beautiful woman and the bright moon.
"Once upon a time, there was a legend that there were 10 suns in the sky, which made the planet very dry," Liang explains. "So a young man named Hou Yi decided to shoot down nine of the suns, and became a hero. For his heroism, he was gifted a potion to make himself and his wife, Chang'e, immortal. However, someone else decided to steal the potion and drank it for themselves."
"Because the drug was so powerful, [Chang'e] ended up flying to the moon and she becomes the moon goddess in Chinese legend," Liang says.
Because of the on-going pandemic, the Milwaukee Chinese Community Center has paused in-person events. This year, Liang and a couple of friends got together made moon cakes with eight different types of fillings ranging from coconut to chocolate.
In previous years, the center has helped to host China Lights, a lantern and light festival. They've also hosted performances for a traditional Chinese fashion show and Chinese folk dance. "I hope it comes back next year after the pandemic," Liang says.