What Is The Mid-Autumn Festival?

by Megan Brown

OKLAHOMA CITY – Fall means festival season, but there is one festival you may never have heard about that not only ushers in a new season, but celebrates the diversity of Oklahoma.

The Mid-Autumn Festival, or the Zhōngqiū Jié, (中秋节) is a festival that celebrates the end of the autumn harvest and the lunar cycle.  While the tradition is based in Chinese history and culture,There are many countries that recognize the holiday or variations of it.

In Oklahoma, the annual celebration happens in the heart of Oklahoma City’s Asian District.  It brings together many cultural groups for one festival.

Moon cakes are offered between friends or on family gatherings while celebrating the festival

What would a celebration be without cake?  

A traditional treat for the Mid-Autumn Festival is the moon cake.  Super Cao Nguyen, a store in Oklahoma City, offers a wide variety of moon cakes during the holiday. 

Moon cakes are a type of Chinese pastry that can be filled with many things and range from salty to sweet. Some popular flavors are: red bean, lotus seed paste, mixed nut and snow skin. Most moon cakes are also filled with yolks from salted duck eggs and are normally eaten in small wedges accompanied with tea. 

Usually, moon cakes are offered between friends or on family gatherings while celebrating the festival. It is also customary for businessmen and families to present them to their clients or relatives as presents.

You can trace celebrations of the harvest and moon to the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BCE), although the  as it combined a celebration of the harvest with the moon. However, the more formalized festival was not popularized until the mid seventh century in the Tang Dynasty.

In China, the harvest has been celebrated since the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BCE).  This celebration gained popularity in the early Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE) as a festival. A key part of the celebration is the worship of the moon because during that time the Chinese culture associated the moon with rejuvenation. 

A key part of the celebration is the worship of the moon and some people who celebrate the festival make offerings to the moon. Offerings can also be made made to the well-known lunar deity “Chang’e,” or “The Moon Goddess of Immortality.”

A fable from the Zhuang people popularized this practice. The fable states that the sun and moon are a couple; with the stars being their children. When the moon is pregnant, it is round. When it gives birth, it becomes a crescent.

Whether you want to celebrate the moon, or just the diversity that exists in Oklahoma, the Mid-Autumn Festival is an event that you will want to attend.

A taro moon cake is one of many flavors available to celebrate the festival

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