Mid-Autumn Festival is held on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese calendar, which is in September or early October in the Gregorian calendar.
In 2017 it takes place on Wednesday October 4th.
Dates of Mid-Autumn 2017–2022
In the next 30 years, Mid-Autumn falls as early as September 8 (2033) and as late as October 6 (2025).
The 3-Day Holiday Is a Short-Trip Peak
Chinese people will have a three-day “public holiday” on the 15th and 17th — a normal weekend off for 5-day week workers, however…
When Mid-Autumn occurs at the end of September or early October its statutory day of public holiday is usually combined with the statutory National Day three-day holiday for a seven-day public holiday (October 1–7), sacrificing one adjacent weekend day ( for example, in 2017 people need to work on Saturday, September 30).
Why Mid-Autumn Is Celebrated at Month 8 Day 15
1. Traditional Calendar Seasons
According to the Chinese lunar calendar (and traditional solar calendar), the 8th month is the second month of autumn. As the four seasons each have three (about-30-day) months on the traditional calendars, day 15 of month 8 is “the middle of autumn”.
2. For the Full Moon
On the 15th of the lunar calendar, each month, the moon is at its roundest and brightest, symbolizing togetherness and reunion in Chinese culture. Families get together to express their familial love by eating dinner together, appreciating the moon, eating mooncakes, etc. The harvest moon is traditionally believed to be the brightest of the year.
3. For Harvest Celebration
Month 8 day 15, is traditionally the time rice is supposed to mature and be harvested. So people celebrate the harvest and worship their gods to show their gratitude.
How to Celebrate
1. Eating Mooncakes — The Most Representative Tradition
A mooncake is a traditional Chinese pastry. It is made from wheat flour and sweet stuffing, such as sugar and lotus seed powder. It’s a symbol of family reunion, and the cake is traditionally cut into pieces that equal the number of people in the family..
Eating mooncakes is the most common and representative tradition of the day. In ordinary times, people won’t buy or eat mooncakes but during the Mid-Autumn Festival everyone will have a mooncake to celebrate.
How to make mooncake?
2. Appreciating the Moon — a Symbol of Family Reunion
In Chinese beliefs, the full moon is the symbol for a family reunion. Many famous ancient poets wrote poems about the moon and expressed their homesickness. When people look at the moon, it reminds them of their families and homeland..
Nowadays, people still like appreciating the moon during the Mid-Autumn Festival in China. Chinese family members have dinner together in the evening of the Mid-Autumn Festival. After dinner, they may talk about their work, the children, and their future plans.
Places for Appreciating the Moon — Roof, Mountaintop, or Lakeside
Chinese people like to find the best place that offers a great view of the moon, such as the roof, a balcony, a mountaintop, or a lakeside.
3. Making Colorful Lanterns — Children’s Favorite Activity
Making colorful lanterns is a happy activity between families and children. The lanterns have different shapes and can also resemble animals, plants, or flowers.
Children love making colorful lanterns. They make them in different shapes to be hung in trees or houses, or floated on rivers. Parks will also hang up colorful lanterns, which provide a beautiful view at night.
They also make Kongming lanterns, which can fly because the burning candles heat the air in the lantern. Children write good wishes on the lanterns and let them fly up into the sky.
4. Having Dinner Together — Happy Family Reunion Time
As the Mid-Autumn Festival represents the reunion of families, families will have dinner together on that night. People who don’t have time to stay with their parents will try their best to go home to at least have dinner together. Therefore, there can be traffic jams during this festival.
Cook at Home or Dine at a Restaurant
In the past, mothers would cook delicious food at home and families would spend some happy time together. Nowadays, most families tend to have dinner at a restaurant rather than cook at home. Therefore, famous restaurants can be fully booked on the Mid-Autumn Festival night.
5. Giving Gifts — to Friends, Relatives, and Staff
It’s very popular to give gifts to friends and relatives during the Mid-Autumn Festival. During the festival, people will pay short visits to friends or relatives, taking gifts with them. They usually leave before dinnertime. This is a good time to get closer to friends and relatives. Companies also like to give a gift to every staff member. The most popular and common gifts are mooncakes and fruit.