Chinese Moon Festival - 5 Days to Celebrate the Full Moon
When talking about Chinese Moon Festival, the most widely known is the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as Autumn Moon Festival on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. This is the festival for Chinese people all over the world, even celebrated in many Asian countries and some western countries. But you may not know that in addition to the Mid-Autumn Festival, there are several other traditional Moon Festivals in China. People celebrate these Chinese Moon Festivals on the 15th day of the first, second, seventh, and eighth lunar month respectively.
1. Lantern Festival - 15th day of 1st lunar month
Also named: Yuanxiao Festival, Shangyuan Festival
China name: 元宵节 yuán xiāo jié
Activities: guess lantern riddles, appreciate lantern shows, eat Yuanxiao…
This is the first full moon day and the first Chinese Moon Festival in a lunar year. On the festival day, people guess lantern riddles, set off fireworks, appreciate lanterns shows, and eat the festival food Yuanxiao under moonlight with family members. In some places, people have the tradition of “Welcome Moon” at a mountain top. It is said that the first one reaching the mountain top and seeing the moon would be the luckiest person of the whole year.
2. Huazhao Festival - 15th day of 2nd lunar month
Also named: Birthday of Flowers, Festival of Flower Goddess
China name: 花朝节 huā zhāo jié
Activities: enjoy the flowers on a spring outing and make flower cakes
The Huazhao Festival is actually the beginning of spring and when flowers are going to blossom, which is exactly the time to have an outing in spring. People in China take flowers as the symbol of girls, so Huazhao Festival is always considered as a girls’ festival. On this day, girls often go out to appreciate flowers, and decorate the flowering branches with colorful papers.
3. Chinese Ghost Festival - 15th day of 7th lunar month
Also named: Zhongyuan Festival
China names: 中元节, 鬼节 zhōng yuán jié, guǐ jié
Activities: offer sacrifice to dead families, float river lanterns, pray for harvest
In Chinese culture, the 15th day of 7th lunar month is the birthday of the God of Hell. At the night of this Chinese Moon Festival, the God of Hell will open up the gate of hell for the dead ones to go home to reunite with their families. On the festival day, people burn paper money for the dead family members and float the river lanterns to make a wish.
4. Mid-Autumn Festival – 15th day of 8th lunar month
Also named: Moon Festival, Autumn Moon Festival, Mooncake Festival
China name: 中秋节 zhōng qiū jié
Traditions: Enjoy the full moon, eat mooncakes and offer sacrifice to the moon
Chinese believe that the moon on the 15th day of 8th lunar month is the biggest, fullest and brightest of the year and gives it the meaning of reunion. On the festival day, Chinese people would go home to reunite with other family members. On the night, they appreciate the full moon and eat mooncakes together. The mooncakes are usually of round shape to symbolize the reunion of the family. Falling in middle autumn, it is also the time of harvest; so people also offer sacrifice to the moon with their harvests.
5. Xiayuan Festival - 15th day of 10th lunar month
Also named: Xiayuan Shuiguan Festival
China name: 下元节 xià yuán jié
Activities: Worship the ancestors and offer sacrifice to the Gods
The Xiayuan Festival is the last Chinese Moon Festival of the year and one of the most important festivals to commemorate ancestors. In order to pray for the ancestors to bless their descendants and protect them from disasters and misfortunes, people offer sacrifices to their ancestors on this day. The Xiayuan Festival has gradually become a sacrificial festival.