Mid-Autumm Festivals Around Southeast Asia

For Vietnamese people, mid-autumm festival on August 15th of the Lunar month is one of two most significant festivals, after Tet holiday, when the moon is at its roundest and brightest. Other countries in Southeastern Asia such as Korea, Chine and Japan also have fantastic traditional festivals during this time.

Japan

Tsukimi dango

The Mid-Autumn Festival is named Tsukimi (月見) or Otsukimi (literally means moon-viewing) in Japan. Celebrations of the festival take place on the 15th day of the eight month of the traditional Japanese Lunisor calendar, so it’s called jugoya, which means the night of 15th. Jugoya in the solar calendar changes every year and usually falls on September or October. The moon on jugoya isn’t always full, but it’s said that the moon on the night is the brightest and the most beautiful in the year.

The Tsukimi custom or moon-viewing custom originated from the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. Custom of viewing the moon and holding festival parties appeared over 1000 years ago when tradition of the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival was introduced to Japan.

Unlike the Chinese, who eat mooncakes to celebrate the festival, the Japanese usually eat eating rice dumplings called Tsukimi dango. The tradition is now so popular in Japan that some people repeat the activities for several evenings following the appearance of the full moon during the eighth lunisolar month.

How do Japanese people celebrate Tsukimi? It’s done in a quiet manner. Traditionally, susuki (pampas grass) or other autumn flowers are decorated in a vase, and dango (dumplings) and satoimo (taro potatoes) are offered to the moon in an alter. People look at the moon, enjoying the beauty quietly. Tsukimi also has the meaning of celebrating the autumn harvest. See how to make dango dumplings. Commonly, plain dumplings are stacked on a tray instead of skewered.

Korea

Chusok, also known as the Korean Thanksgiving or Mid-Autumn Festival, is one of the most celebrated Korean holidays. Held on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, Chusok is often called a great day in the middle of August. It occurs during the harvest season. Thus, Korean families take this time to thank their ancestors for providing them with rice and fruits.

The celebration starts on the night before Chusok and ends on the day after the holiday. Thus, many Korean families take three days off from work to get together with family and friends.

The celebration starts with a family get-together at which rice cakes called “Songphyun” are served. These special rice cakes are made of rice, beans, sesame seeds, and chestnuts. Then the family pays respect to ancestors by visiting their tombs and offering them rice and fruits. In the evening, children wear their favorite hanbok (traditional Korean clothing) and dance under the bright moon in a large circle. They play games and sing songs. Like the American Thanksgiving, Chusok is the time to celebrate the family and give thanks for their blessings.

Songphyun

Lantern Street

China

Mid-Autumm Festival in China

In the Chinese lunar calendar tradition, the seventh, eighth and ninth months comprise autumn. During fall, the skies are commonly clear and cloudless and the nights crisp and sharp. In these night sky conditions, the moon appears to be the brightest. The fifteenth of the eighth month is the middle of autumn, thus the festival celebrates the moon’s appearance as the brightest and most beautiful throughout the year.

Besides the obvious, moon-gazing, Chinese families celebrate by getting together and eating. Boiled peanuts, slices of taro, rice gruel, fish and noodles are all traditional dishes to eat during the festival, but none of these takes the place of the moon cake. Ubiquitously on sale in every supermarket and hotel, moon cakes are now a highly prized commodity. Companies use the festival as a time to thank clients with boxes of moon cakes. You may be wondering just what a moon cake is?
Moon cakes are typically round, symbolizing the full round moon of the mid-autumn festival. They are usually made with four egg yolks, representing the four phases of the moon, and are sweet, filled with sweet bean or lotus seed paste.
Chinese Mooncakes

Vietnam

Mid-Autumm Festival in Vietnam

According to Vietnamese customs, the mid-autumm festival is a holiday for children. Parents will prepare a party and make lanterns to decorate their houses and for children to bring to the lantern parade. The party menu includes mooncake, candy, sugarcane, pineapple and other fruits. Also in this occasion, locals also buy mooncakes, tea and wine to worship ancestors or to give to grandparents, parents, teachers, friends, relatives and others.

Vietnamese people also perform the Lion dance on mid-autumm festival. The Unicorn symbolizes good luck and prosperity.

Lion Dance

 

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