Also called:

  • Moon Festival
  • Mooncake Festival
  • Zhong Qiu Jie in Mandarin


  • 2022: September 10
  • 2023: September 29 (Friday)
  • 2024: September 17 (Tuesday)
  • 2025: October 6 (Monday)

Even if you are not Chinese, you may have learned about the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. Also known as the “Moon Festival” or “Mooncake Festival”, China’s Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month in the Chinese calendar.

Admittedly, the Moon Festival becomes more popular in countries beyond China, such as Japan Korea, Vietnam, and many other Asian countries. You may also expect to delve into the origin, history, customs, and importance of the Mooncake Festival as more people are celebrating it.

Table of Contents

When Is the Mid-Autumn Festival? Why Is It Called Mid-Autumn, Moon Festival, or Mooncake Festival?

The Mid-Autumn festival originated from the Zhou Dynasty in China 3000 years ago. It falls annually on the 15th of the eighth lunar month. However, in the solar calendar, the Chinese Mooncake Festival stands in September or October.

In the Chinese lunar calendar, the season of autumn consists of July, August, and September. Therefore, in the lunar calendar, August 15th falls in the middle of autumn (lunar calendar). That is why it is called Mid-Autumn Festival.

Why is it also named Moon Festival?

This festival is closely related to the moon. On the Mid-Autumn Day, the moon is shining bright and it is sometimes a full moon. Hence, another name for this festival, Moon Festival, comes into being.

Furthermore, on the day of the Mid-Autumn Festival, people tend to eat mooncakes. Therefore, this festival is also called Mooncake Festival.

What Is China’s Moon-cake Festival?


There are some stories about the origin or history of the Moon Festival:

Chang’e flying to the moon:

chang e flying to the sky

Chang’e’s husband Hou Yi, an archer, shot down nine of the 10 suns to save the earth from overheating, and he then earned an elixir that allowed him to ascend to heaven and become a god. Nevertheless, an evil man kept an eye on the elixir and the home of Hou Yi.

To protect the elixir from the evil man, Chang’e drank the elixir and then ascended to the moon along with a rabbit for company.

From then on, Hou Yi waited for the day of the full moon, expecting to see his wife on the moon and reunite with her. Therefore, the Moon Festival comes out.

Emperor Xuanzong of Tang’s story of appreciating the moon

Legend has it that on the night of the mid-autumn day, the emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty was having fun under the moon with Yang Yuhuan (Lady Yang). The two enjoyed the time and unconsciously ascended to the moon.

From then on, every day on this day, the emperor of Xuanzong would have time to appreciate the moon. This tradition has then passed on to society where common people would also spend time under the moon on this day. That is how Mooncake Festival appeared.

In ancient China, people often associated the season of autumn with a good harvest in agriculture. In the middle of August (Chinese lunar calendar), crops and fruits are ripening.

To celebrate the good yield and express their “happy Mid-Autumn”, farmers made this day a holiday.


There is a long history of the Moon Festival from its birth to its popularity as a national holiday in China.

Bornin the Zhou Dynasty

Zhou Dynasty

In the Western Zhou Dynasty, it was a custom to offer sacrifices to the moon for a good harvest. According to the book Rites of Zhou, Mid-Autumn appeared when emperors in the Western Zhou Dynasty offered sacrifices to worship the moon.

Popularized in Tang Dynasty

Ranging from the emperor to common citizens, appreciating the bright moon served as a common practice on the day of mid-autumn. Worshipping the moon for a plentiful harvest and family reunification became more common.

Celebrated as a Festival in the Song Dynasty

The 15th day of the eighth lunar month became the “Mid-Autumn” Festival in the Song Dynasty. It has become a routine for people to sacrifice to the moon on this day.

Eating Mooncakes from the Yuan Dynasty

People in the Yuan Dynasty celebrated the victory of the rebel against the Mongols by eating mooncakes.

Being a Public Holiday in 2008

In 2008, the Mooncake Festival was made a public holiday in China. On this day, people can take days off from work and stay with families.

What are the Customs and Traditions of the Moon-cake Festival in China?

Throughout the history of this ancient festival in China, there are some common customs and traditions to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival in China. Some of the traditions exist even in modern times. You can learn about how to celebrate the Moon Festival by moving on.

Spending with the Family

spending time with families on mid autumn festival

On the day of the Mooncake Festival, the moon is often round and highly bright. At this moment, people tend to stay with families for a dinner. The roundness of the moon usually signifies the reunion of a family.

In China, there is a three-day holiday so that people can return home and reunite with their families. Even those who are away from home, can come back home and have time with their families.

Appreciating the Moon

It is said that the moon on the Mid-Autumn Festival is the fullest and the brightness. On the night of this day, people in China usually sit under the full moon, eating mooncakes of different flavors. Meanwhile, as for other food during the Mooncake Festival, people also eat food like crabs, pomelos, and grapes.

Eating Mooncakes


There are different types of mooncakes. The mooncakes have different flavors and symbols. Mooncakes are round and sweet, representing happiness, completeness, and sweetness. In different regions or cities in China, different mooncakes are made with adaptations from local specialties.

Making, Hanging, and Releasing Lanterns

To celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, people usually buy or self-make special lanterns to hang or release lanterns. As for lanterns for Chinese festivals, in China, there is a particular Lantern Festival that features the use of lanterns to celebrate this day (the 15th day of Chinese New Year).

On the Moon Festival, by hanging lanterns on trees and releasing lanterns into the sky, people want to deliver their good wishes.

Why Is Moon Festival Important in China?

Chinese New Year, Lantern Festival, and Mooncake Festival are the 3 most important festivals in China. The Mid-Autumn Festival, especially, is essential for the Chinese in that it is the celebration of the rich harvest and fruits.

Why Is Moon Festival Important in China

On this festival, people reunite and gather on the full and bright moon to show their love to each other. Therefore, Mid-Autumn Festival is more of the characteristics of Thanksgiving in the west.

Moreover, as Moon Festival in China has deep connections with agriculture history, it is crucial for Chinese people to give thanks for the harvest and to encourage the harvest-giving light to return to the coming year on this day.

Currently, Mooncake Festival is a celebration of happiness and reunion. As a public holiday, Mid-Autumn Festival is highly valued in China. People far away from home will go back home to spend time with families to celebrate this moment of reunion.

If you want to know how to wish happy Mid-Autumn Festival friends and families, you can use the following messages and greetings:

This audio shows you a few popular ways to say hello at the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

Wish you and your family a happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

A bright moon and stars twinkle and shine. Wishing you a merry Mid-Autumn Festival, bliss, and happiness!

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! May the round moon bring you a happy family and a successful future!

Wish you a perfect life just like the roundest moon on Mid-Autumn Day!

Happy Mid-Autumn Day! Wish that you go well and have a successful and bright future.

How Do Other Countries Celebrate the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival?

As China has become more influential in the international community, the Chinese culture is becoming increasingly popular worldwide, especially in Asian countries. Among all the cultural factors, Chinese festivals can be one of the most significant elements in the Chinese culture.

How Do Other Countries Celebrate the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival

Therefore, while other countries try to learn more about Chinese culture, they have gradually absorbed customs and traditions of Chinese festivals, such as the Moon Festival. The Chinese culture like traditional festivals is celebrated even by other nations as many Chinese have immigrated to these nations.

It is worth noting that while drawing from the time-honored traditions from China, other nations have also adapted these traditions according to their own cultures and traditions.

How to Celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival in Singapore?

hang lanterns one or two weeks before the Moon Festival; holding lantern fair in Singapore river; eating mooncakes; giving gifts.

How Does Malaysia Celebrate the Chinese Mooncake Festival?

visit Thean Hou temple in Kuala Lumpur; worship the moon; light incense coils and make offerings of mooncakes, fruit and Chinese tea to their ancestors.

How Does Japan Celebrate the Chinese Mooncake Festival?

Display decorations made from Japanese pampas grass and eat rice dumplings; eat mooncakes; reunite with families, having dinner.

How to Celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival in Korea?

Eat mooncakes, beef, fruit, and healthcare products; hold ancestor worship ceremonies; reunite to have dinner.

What Are the Most Famous Chinese Mid-Autumn Poems?

The mostly circulated Chinese poem about the Mooncake Festival can be “A Tranquil Night” by Libai (translated by the famous Chinese translator, Xu Yuanchong):

A bed, I see a silver light,

I wonder if It’s frost around.

Looking up, I find the moon bright,

Bowing, in homesickness, I’m drowned.

Another famous Chinese poem related to the moon and the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival is “Prelude to Water Melody” by Chinese poet Su Shi in Song Dynasty (translated by Xu Yuanchong).

How long will the full moon appear?

Wine cup hand, I ask the sky.

I do not know what time of the year

It would be tonight in the palace on high.

Riding the wind, there I would fly.

Yet I’m afraid the crystalline palace would be

too high and cold for me.

I rise and dance, with my shadow I play.

On high as on earth, would it be as gay?

The moon goes around the mansion red

Through gauze-draped window soft to shed

Her light upon the sleepless bed.

Why then when people part, is oft full and bright?

Men have sorrow and joy; they part and meet again.

The moon is bright or dim and she makes wax or wane.

There has been nothing perfect since the olden days.

So let us wish that man will live long as he can!

Though miles apart, we will share the beauty she displays.

FAQ about Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival

How Often is Mid-Autumn Festival Celebrated?

People in China celebrate the Mooncake Festival per time each year. Other countries that celebrate the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival also celebrate this festival once per year.

How Long the Day Off Is in China for the Mid-Autumn Festival?

There is a three-day holiday for Chinese people for the Moon Festival.

Does Mid-Autumn Festival Change Every Year?

Yes, the day of the Mooncake Festival changes every year as it is a Chinese lunar holiday. The day changes according to the lunar calendar instead of the solar calendar. For instance, the Mid-Autumn Festival in 2022 was on September 21, 2022, while the day of this festival changes to

Who Celebrates the Mooncake Festival?

Originating in China, the Moon Festival is also celebrated in Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

How Do You Eat Mooncakes?

Many people asked, “do I eat mooncakes hot or cold?” or “am I supposed to microwave mooncakes?”.

Chinese mooncakes have wide regional varieties, but most of them are eaten in small wedges and shared by a family member. You do not have to microwave mooncakes. Just open the package and eat it directly. More often, mooncakes are sweet, so Chinese people often eat them with Chinese tea.

Does Everyone Celebrate the Mooncake Festival in the Same Way?

No, in different regions or even cities in China, people celebrate this festival differently under the influence of different local traditions.

For instance, in the north of China, mooncakes are often sweet, but in the south of China, mooncakes are in different flavors such as spicy and sweet. Apart from the favor of the mooncakes, in the north, people usually sacrifice to the moon with fruits like apples and oranges, which is rare in the south of China.

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