The Mid-Autumn Festival is an East Asian tradition that celebrates the end of the fall harvest. It’s a time to visit family, give thanks for the past year, and pray or hope for good fortune in the coming year.
Like most human culture, many of the traditions began as rituals of faith, but evolved into secular folk traditions. This is a Pan-Asian tradition. It has Chinese roots, but is celebrated across East and SouthEast Asia. Every place has its own unique traditions. 🇨🇳 🇹🇼 🇰🇷 🇯🇵 🇵🇭 🇸🇬 🇹🇭 🇻🇳
For context, Thanksgiving in the United States is very similar, in that people travel to visit their families and celebrate the end of the harvest season.
Mid-Autumn Festival Timing
The Mid-Autumn Festival is also called the “Moon Festival” or “Mooncake Festival.” It falls on a full moon night between mid-September and early October.
The next Mid-Autumn Festival is Friday, September 29, 2023.
The traditions are designed to bring people together. The most important is being with family. Giving mooncakes and lighting lanterns are traditional.
In Asia now, people from the countryside often move to the city for work. This is a time when entire countries go home to visit family. It’s a mass human migration. In a similar way, Thanksgiving is the biggest travel day in the U.S.
Sharing mooncakes is traditional. They are often filled with lotus beans and stamped with designs or even made in animal shapes.
Some cities put on lantern festivals.
The one thing you see in all the local variations is our common humanity.
Where to Celebrate in NYC?
This isn’t only a Chinese festival, but New York has around a dozen Chinatowns. The biggest are in Mott Street, Manhattan; Flushing, Queens; and Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
Have a nice dinner out with your family. The best New York is one in which we celebrate each other.