Celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month each year, Mid-Autumn Festival coincides with the full harvest moon. This year’s festival falls on September 13.
The moon goddess Chang’e bestows beauty and romantic good fortune upon her followers. These days, we honour her by burning incense, performing lion dances and carrying lanterns – the latter allows her to see her worshippers more clearly.
There are lantern parades all over Hong Kong on September 13. Pinterest has lots of examples of simple lantern-making guides to follow for all age groups, or you can buy paper lanterns in every conceivable shape and size throughout the festive period.
While many cultures mark some sort of harvest festival, China has been celebrating this ancient seasonal rite for nearly three millennia, originally paying homage to a mythical dragon that brought rain for the farmers’ crops.
Mid-Autumn Festival’s very own delicacy is the mooncake. Made from an intricately decorated pastry case that is filled with either lotus seed or red-bean paste, mooncakes also traditionally contain salted duck-egg yolk. More contemporary versions are flavoured with chocolate, ice cream, durian and even peanut butter.
Mid-Autumn Festival coincides with hairy-crab season. September through November, hairy crabs migrate from their freshwater habitat toward the ocean, and they are caught by mainland Chinese fishermen in river deltas. Supplies are limited, so you pay more than you would for a regular freshwater crab. Best accompanied by Chinese rice wine or ginger tea, the hairy crab’s flesh (particularly the female’s) is renowned for its sweetness, while its roe is creamy and buttery.
Much like Christmas or Thanksgiving, the MidAutumn celebrations are a time to gather as a family and reflect on the year that has passed. The day after the festival is a public holiday, allowing families to eat together on the evening of the festival itself and rest up the following day.