10 Unexpected Fun Facts about Mid-Autumn Festival You don’t Know

1. Mid-Autumn Festival is listed in China’s Intangible Cultural Heritages.

The Mid-Autumn Festival originated from Tang Dynasty (618 - 907 AD) and flourished in the Song Dynasty (960 - 1279 AD). It has since become an important festival among Chinese people. On May 20, 2006, the State Council included it in the first batch of China’s intangible cultural heritage for that it is a day for Chinese family reunion; it is widely celebrated by Chinese with many traditional customs such as admiring the full moon, worshipping the moon and eating mooncakes. There are many widely told folktales about the festival.

2. The festival has many other names.

There are many other names for the Mid-Autumn Festival. Since it’s on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month in autumn, it is also called “August Festival” and “Autumn Festival”. Other names are “Chinese Moon Festival”, “Autumn Moon Festival”, “Playing the Moon Festival”, “Worship the Moon Festival”, and “Reunion Festival” for that it’s a full moon day which symbolizes family reunion. The festival food is mooncake, so another popular name is "Chinese Moon Cake Festival". In recent years, its Chinese name “zhong qiu jie” also gets more and more popular worldwide.

3. The full moon may not occur on Mid-Autumn Day.

One of the interesting facts about Mid-Autumn Festival is that the full moon doesn’t always show on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. In fact, it is possible that the full moon is on the 14th, 16th, or 17th day of the 8th lunar month.

According to the astronomical rule, the new moon may show up in different times of the first day of each lunar month and it takes less than 15 days for a new moon to become a full moon. If the new moon shows at early morning of the first day of 8th lunar month, the full moon may show up on the 14th or 15th day of 8th lunar month; while it shows at night, the full moon may show up on the 16th day or even 17th day.

This full moon may not always be the Harvest Moon of western custom because the Harvest Moon may at times occur in October.

4. Romantic! It was once the Valentine’s Day in ancient China.

People now widely consider Qixi Festival as Chinese Valentine’s Day. However, a fun fact is that the Mid-Autumn Festival is also a valentine’s day at the beginning. In Chinese mythology, the God of the Moon is in charge of love and marriage. He creates love between boys and girls by tying them together with a magic silk line that cannot be seen by ordinary people. So the festival to worship the moon is originally a festival to pray for love and happy marriage. Till today, in west Hunan, there is a special custom that girls “steal” vegetables from the vegetable garden of their loved boys when the full moon shows, and the boys will be invited to girls’ homes to have a bowl of oil-tea. This custom gives chances for unmarried boys and girls to have a date.

5. The festival’s origin may relate to the imperial examination in ancient time.

One of Mid-Autumn Festival fun facts is that Mid-Autumn Festival has a subtle relation with the ancient imperial examinations. In the feudal society, imperial examinations were arranged in the eighth lunar month. People would celebrate with examinee who pass the exam. This custom has gradually evolved into the important festival that has prevailed over the ages.

6. The “mooncake” was named by Concubine Yang of the Tang Dynasty.

Another Mid-Autumn Festival fun fact is that the mooncake was once called “Hu Cake”. One year of Mid-Autumn Festival night, Li Longji, an emperor of Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), and his Concubine Yang were eating Hu cakes. Li Longji thought that the name of “Hu Cake” was not good. The bright moon in the sky inspired Concubine Yang, and then she said “mooncake” was better. From then on, the name “mooncake” gradually spread in the folk.

7. Right way to eat the mooncake: all family members sharing one.

Yes, you read it well! It’s not “one for each person”. According to traditional customs, the right way to eat mooncakes is that the mooncake symbolizing the full moon is cut into pieces and shared by all family members, one piece for each family member. If there are family members who are not in home, the parents should store the mooncake pieces that belong to them and wait till they come home to taste it.

See also
Traditional Mooncakes in China - 12 Types of Regional Variations

10 Most Popular Mooncake Flavors - Which one do you like?

8. Amazing! The biggest mooncake in the world was shared by 110,000 people.

The 2007 Guinness World Record shows that the largest moon cake was born in China, with a diameter of 8.15 meters, a thickness of 20 centimeters and a total weight of 12.98 tons, which can be enjoyed by 110,000 people. The Mid-Autumn Festival fun fact is that big mooncakes are made every year but no one has surpassed it.

9. The mooncakes were once used to deliver military messages.

Zhu Yuanzhang, the founder of Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD), led an uprising to fight against the crucial royal court. They decided to uprise on the 15th day of 8th lunar month. For safety and secrecy, Zhu Yuanzhang ordered soldiers to wrap the notes with “uprise on 15th night of 8th month” into mooncakes and sent them to various resistance forces. On the Mid-Autumn night, many resistance forces responded to the note.

 See also
6 Most Well-Known Legends about Mid-Autumn Festival 

Mid-Autumn Festival Story - Chang E Flying to the Moon

3,000 Years’ Timeline of Mooncake History, from its Origin 'Taishi Cake'

10. It is the time particularly efficacious to pray for a happy marriage.

In the old days, unmarried men and women would quietly pray under the full moon on the Mid-Autumn Festival, and plead to the matchmaker, God of Moon, to find a spouse and have a happy marriage. What an interesting fact about Mid-Autumn Festival!

 Further Reading
11 Mid-Autumn Festival Facts You Should Know

- Last updated on Jun. 09, 2020 -
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