Mid-Autumn Festival

Mid-Autumn Festival
2019 Mid-Autumn Festival falls on September 13th (Friday). The holiday in China starts from September 13 to 15, 2019. Due to the pleasant autumn weather this is a peak time for travel.

Falling on the 15th day of the 8th month according to the Chinese lunar calendar, the Mid-Autumn Festival is the second grandest festival in China after the Chinese New Year. It takes its name from the fact that it is always celebrated in the middle of the autumn season. The day is also known as the Moon Festival, as at that time of the year the moon is at its roundest and brightest.


The holiday schedule of mainland China in recent years is offered as follows.Mid-Autumn Festival

Year Date Holiday
2018 Sep. 24 Sep. 22 - 24
2019 Sep. 13 Sep. 13 - 15
2020 Oct. 1 Oct. 1
It is within the National Day holiday from Oct. 1 to 7 and will prolong the holiday to Oct. 8.
2021 Sep. 21 Sep. 19 - 21
2022 Sep. 10 Sep. 10 - 12
2023 Sep. 29 Sep. 29

People in mainland China enjoy one day off on the festival which is usually connected with the weekend. In Hong Kong and Macau, people also enjoy one day off. However, it is not scheduled on the festival day, but the following day and it is usually not connected with the weekend. In Taiwan, the one day holiday falls on the festival day. 



Mid-Autumn Festival is an inherited custom of moon sacrificial ceremonies. The ancient Chinese observed that the movement of the moon had a close relationship with changes of the seasons and agricultural production. Hence, to express their thanks to the moon and celebrate the harvest, they offered a sacrifice to the moon on autumn days.

Mid-Autumn Festival in Xi'an
Mid-Autumn Festival in Xi'an

This custom could be traced back to the Zhou Dynasty (1046 - 256 BC) and was more often practiced by the royal class on the Autumnal Equinox. At that time, the custom had no festival background at all. Later in the Sui (581 - 618 AD) and Tang (618 - 907 AD) dynasties, social prosperity inspired the custom of appreciating the moon on the moon sacrifice ceremony day among common people and the two merged. The people expressed their faith more liberally than the royal class and so they did not strictly hold their activities on the Autumnal Equinox. So the 15th of the 8th lunar month, the closest full moon day to the Autumnal Equinox, turned out to be a better choice and was set as a fixed festival. This happened in the Tang Dynasty. By the time of the Northern Song Dynasty (960 - 1127 AD), Mid-Autumn Festival had already become a widely celebrated folk festival. 

Romantically speaking, the festival is to commemorate Chang E, who in order to protect her beloved husband’s elixir, ate it herself and flew to the moon.


In addition to the romantic legend Chang E Flying to the Moon mentioned above, there are many other legends and stories related to this grand festival. The most well-known ones include Jade Rabbit Pounding Medicine, Wu Gang Chopping Laurel Tree, and Zhu Yuanzhang and the Moon Cake Uprising. 

On the festival day, family members gather to offer sacrifice to the moon, appreciate the bright full moon, eat moon cakes, and express strong yearnings toward family members and friends who live afar. In addition, there are some other customs like playing lanterns, and dragon and lion dances in some regions. The unique customs of ethnic minorities are interesting as well, such as “chasing the moon” of Mongolians, and “steal vegetables or fruits” of the Dong people.

 See also 18 Popular Mid-Autumn Festival Traditions

Moon cakes, the special food for the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Moon cakes, the special food for 
the Mid-Autumn Festival
 The Moon Cake is the special food of Mid-Autumn Festival. On that day, people sacrifice moon cakes to the moon as an offering and eat them for celebration. Moon cakes come in various flavors according to the region. The moon cakes are round, symbolizing the reunion of a family, so it is easy to understand how the eating of moon cakes under the round moon can evoke longing for distant relatives and friends. Nowadays, people present moon cakes to relatives and friends to demonstrate that they wish them a long and happy life.
 Some people prefer stay at home to celebrate the festival, while others would like to go outside to have a closer contact with the bright full moon. Over time, some outdoor places become more popular, including ancient man-made sites, natural scenic areas, countryside and skyscrapers, etc.
 Due to frequent communications with China and migrations of Chinese people, Mid-Autumn Festival has become popular in other parts of the world, especially neighboring Asian countries where it is celebrated in the same way as in China, while others add their own customs.
Chinese Mid-Autumn Greeting Cards
  •   Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!
  •   Moon Cakes
  •   Bright Full Moon

 Further Reading:
2019 / 2020 / 2021 China Public Holiday Calendar is available for you to know the schedule of all holidays in China and better make your travel plan.
Chinese Festival Food introducing various delicous dim sum unique to traditional China festivals.

- Last modified on Jul. 15, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on Mid-Autumn Festival
Asked by Marlene Eglinton from UNITED KINGDOM | Jan. 25, 2019 08:19Reply
Going to China arriving 16th Sep 2019 leaving 5th Oct 2019
Are there any festivals on in that time .if so will all these historical sights be open also the shops
Answers (2)
Answered by Dylan from NEW ZEALAND | Jan. 27, 2019 17:51

The National Day Holiday will start from Oct. 1 to 7. All the sights and shops will open at that time. But it will be especially crowded during that time.
Answered by Mrs m eglinton from GREAT BRITAIN. | Jan. 28, 2019 06:20

Thankyou for answering my question .it has been very helpfully.
Mrs m Eglinton. 👍👍👍
Asked by Olu from NIGERIA | Sep. 21, 2018 22:28Reply
Are schools open on this day?
Will schools open / will teachers teach on September 22-24?
Answers (4)
Answered by Tony Gur from CHINA | Sep. 22, 2018 18:04

many schools are closed during the chinese mid-autumn festival in china. most high school students don't have the leisure time for vacation,because they have to do more to prepare for their unversity test next year.
Answered by Olu from NIGERIA | Sep. 24, 2018 23:22

Dear Tony, So is it possible that some schools are open (primary schools)?
Answered by Tony | Sep. 25, 2018 18:35

Generally, they don't open in the festival.
Answered by Olu from NIGERIA | Sep. 25, 2018 23:10

Thank you Tony!
Asked by Athena from IRAN | Sep. 20, 2018 00:03Reply
Where is the best place to see dragon dance in Dalian?
I'm going to be in Dalian on 22. September., where can i go to see a perfect festival ceremony?
And where are the best places for shopping?
Is there any sale on this festival?
Answers (1)
Answered by Henry from DENMARK | Sep. 20, 2018 19:29

1. Hi, generally, the Dragon Dance is usually performed on Dragon Boat Festival or Lantern Festival, so you may not see it in Mid-Autumn Festival. As for the festival ceremony, I knew there will be moon worship in some places but I'm not sure if there will be in Dalian. However, maybe you can ask the local people about that, like the staff in your hotel.

2. There is a good shopping mall located in No. 101 Kunming street, Zhongshan district.
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