• June 14, 2024

Mid-Autumn Festival in Hong Kong: traditions, festivities and delicacies you don’t want to miss

One of the most important occasions in Chinese culture has traditionally been the Mid-Autumn Festival. Mid-Autumn, also called the Mooncake Festival or Moon Festival, is observed on the full moon day, which falls on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month. Every year, the precise day fluctuates due to the differences in the Gregorian and lunar calendars. The Mid-Autumn Festival takes place on September 17, 2024.

Read More: 中秋節到會

Mid-Autumn is a multi-custom celebration. Chinese people traditionally give thanks to the moon and rejoice over their abundant agricultural harvest. It’s also a time to moongaze and offer prayers for good fortune. More significantly, families come together to rejoice being reunited after being separated over the Mid-Autumn season. Continue reading to learn more about the history, customs, and celebrations of the event in Hong Kong.

What was the origin of the Mid-Autumn Festival?

The origins of the Mid-Autumn Festival are the subject of several folktales, the most well-known of which being the story of Hou Yi and Chang’e. The legend states that Hou Yi shot down nine of the 10 suns that previously graced the sky to save the earth from being burned. He received an immortality elixir as payment for this valiant act. Chang’e, the wife of Hou Yi, was forced to drink the elixir when an apprentice attempted to steal it.

Chang’e, who is eternal and weightless, rose to the moon, where she lives as the Moon Goddess beside the Jade Rabbit. For this reason, one of the most traditional lanterns is modeled after the rabbit, and the rabbit theme is prevalent throughout Mid-Autumn festivals. Observers of the moon still attempt to discern the silhouettes of Chang’e and the Jade Rabbit on the face of the full moon.

How is Mid-Autumn Festival observed in Hong Kong?

Families utilize the occasion as an opportunity to get together since the full moon symbolizes reunions. Typically, this involves having a family supper that is followed by mooncakes, sticky rice balls, and seasonal fruits.

Of course, taking in the sight of the full moon itself is equally essential. This involves wishing the moon a happy arrival on the eve of Mid-Autumn, looking at it on the festival night, and bidding it farewell the next day. Maybe you’ll be inspired too, since ancient Chinese poets would often wax poetic at the moon! The Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park, Victoria Park, Tamar Park, West Kowloon Art Park, and Hong Kong Park are some of the greatest places in the city to see the moon.

Paper lanterns were formerly taught to children to create and decorate, but with so many lantern stores popping up all over the city, it’s far easier to just buy one and walk to the park at night, lighting your path with a lit lantern. Although there are electronic versions that can even play music, you may still purchase the conventional paper version.

Solving puzzles with lanterns is another Mid-Autumn custom. Lanterns were adorned with riddles written on little pieces of paper, which often conveyed blessings of knowledge and prosperity.

What are some Mid-Autumn festivities and events?

The city is filled with lantern displays in the middle of autumn. Parks, the Harbourfront Shared Spaces, the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade, Lee Tung Avenue, and other locations are frequently home to these. Don’t be shocked if you see a light display because some of these lanterns have been updated with modern features like LED lights. Visit Victoria Park specifically to see the most expansive Mid-Autumn light festival in the city.

The Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance procession is another Hong Kong-only custom associated with the Mid-Autumn Festival. The fire dragon dance, which has a huge dragon covered with 12,000 incense sticks, is supposed to have started as a ritualistic activity to keep the neighborhood safe from an epidemic. This unique procession is still maintained by a committed Hakka community and is now listed on the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage as well as Hong Kong’s list. Pok Fu Lam Village celebrates Fire Dragon Dance on its own as well.

Snackle on Mid-Autumn treats

Mooncakes are without a doubt the most iconic representation of the Mid-Autumn Festival. These round pastries represent harmony and togetherness and are embodied by the full moon. They often have a salted egg yolk center and lotus seed paste within. Bakeries have created a broad range of modern flavors throughout time; choose from frozen mooncakes with snow skin to ones with contents like mochi, tea, coffee, and truffles. Since mooncakes are known to be heavy, slice them into wedges and serve them to your loved ones.

Fruits are another essential meal at this time of year, particularly those with Chinese names or forms associated with good fortune. Stock up on examples such as star fruit and pomelo!

Tong yuen, or sticky rice balls, are the traditional last course of family reunion dinners. The Chinese term for “togetherness,” tuen yuen, contains the character “yuen.” Although they are available in several flavors, the most common ones are peanut or black sesame.

Finally, because osmanthus is thought to hold the secret to longevity, osmanthus wine or tea is sometimes served with mooncakes.

INTERESTING FACT

The day following the Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated as a public holiday rather than the festival date itself since the majority of Mid-Autumn celebrations occur at night. The following Monday will be observed as a public holiday if the event occurs on a Sunday. Additionally, MTR and bus services will be extended, operating through the night of the celebration.