Customs of Ethnic Minorities on Mid-Autumn Festival

The ethnic minorities in China celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival like the Han Chinese. Whilst some offer sacrifices to the moon, appreciate the moon and eat moon cakes, others celebrate the occasion in their own ways.

The Dai nationality is one of the ethnic minorities that make offering to the moon. They include games like pheasants and fish and round glutinous rice cakes. The whole families worship the moon with devotion, after which they enjoy the delicious food and appreciate the bright moon.

The most typical Mid-Autumn Festival custom of the Zhuang nationality, on the other hand, is the invitation of a goddess from heaven on that particular night. A sacrificial table is set at the edge of the village or in an open place where offerings and burning of incense are made. A bamboo or any tree branch of about 13 inches is placed on the right side of the table, where the goddess is supposed to descend to earth and return to heaven. There are four stages to the activity, during which one or two women will play the part of the goddess.  Firstly, the goddess is invited to descend to earth; secondly, the antiphonal singing between humans and the goddess; thirdly, the divination and fortune-telling by the goddess and finally, sending the goddess back to the heaven.

Custom of Zhuang People on Mid-Autumn
Dance with Zhuang People
Custom of Mongolians on Mid-Autumn
Mongolians Playing Festival Music

Reputed as “an ethnic minority on horseback”, the Mongolians’ Moon Festival must have something to do with the horse. They ride horses in the moonlight, all the way to the west where the moon sets. It is called “chasing the moon” and they do not stop until the moon is set on the horizon.

The Tibetans celebrate the festival by “seeking” the moon along the river, or more specifically, the moon’s reflection. On the night, young men, women and children try to seek the moon’s reflection around their houses before eating their moon cakes.

The Dong nationalities in Hunan Province have an interesting Mid-Autumn Festival custom called “stealing the moon vegetables.” According to their legend, the goddess from the moon comes to the earth on the night of the Mid-Autumn Day and sprays sweet dews. As these dews are meant for all human beings, everyone thus can share all their vegetables and fruits with sweet dews with anyone. No one will be considered a thief for taking these vegetables or fruits. For single women, they “steal” vegetables or fruits for real love; for married women, the vegetables or fruits can bring them healthy babies; and for single men, they “steal” for happiness.

Dance of Miao People on Mid-Autumn
Dance of Miao People on Mid-Autumn

The Miao people play Lusheng (a reed-pipe wind instrument), sing and dance in the moonlight. The singles try to seek their love ones to express their feelings, which is as pure as the moonlight.

The Deang ethnic minority has a Mid-Autumn Festival custom somehow similar to the Miao people. They also play musical instrument, Hulusheng (a gourd-pipe wind instrument). Young women and men also express their love on this particular night. Some even get engaged by sending betel nuts and tea.

Axi people, a branch of the Yi ethnic minority, gather together in an open place and dance the night away. The most exciting part is the love songs that are sang in antiphonal style by young women and men. Even the moon is touched by their expression.

The Oroqen people worship the moon by offering sacrifices and placing a basin of water in front of the offering. The Tu people also has water in a basin but they beat the moon’s reflection.  Hence it’s called “Beating the Moon”.

In addition to offer sacrifices to the moon, the Hezhen people also harvest grapes, said to commemorate a smart and hard-working woman who ran to the moon because she could not bear the abuse of her mother-in-law.

 Further Reading
18 Popular Mid-Autumn Festival Traditions

Customs on Mid-Autumn Festival

Top 6 Mid-Autumn Festival Activities

- Last updated on Apr. 14, 2021 -
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