Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Mid-Autumn Festival (Chinese: 中秋節; pinyin: Zhōngqīujíe), Moon Festival, or, less commonly, Mooncake Festival (月餅節; pinyin: yùe bĭng jíe) is a traditional Chinese festival / holiday falling on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese lunar calendar (usually around mid- or late-September in Gregorian Calendar). In 2004, this festival was celebrated on 28 September. On this day the full moon is at the year's roundest and brightest, which symbolises family unity and togetherness.
According to Chinese traditions, on this day family members and friends will gather to visit scenic spots, gaze at the moon, and eat mooncakes and pomeloes together. Brightly lit lanterns are often carried around by children. Farmers furthermore celebrate the end of the agricultural season and the harvest on this date. It is one of the two most important holidays in the Chinese calendar (the other being the Chinese Lunar New Year); the Mid-Autumn Festival is a legal holiday in several countries.
Popular legends talk about a goddess named Chang'e, a rabbit, and a woodcutter living on the moon. Shops selling mooncakes before the Mid-Autumn festival often display pictures of Chang'e floating to the moon. (See the separate article on Chang'e for more information about these permanent moon residents.)
The origin of the festival is not very clear. It is said that the festival originated from ancient times, when people held ceremonies in honor of the Moon Goddess, or to celebrate the mid-autumn harvest.
However another version is that the Mid-Autumn Festival commemorates the uprisings in China against Mongol rulers in the early 14th century. Because unlike the Chinese, Mongols did not eat mooncakes, the rebels hid a small piece of note detailing rebellion plans inside each mooncake, which was then smuggled to compatriots. One common message on the note was "kill barbarians on August 15th" (八月十五殺韃子).
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