The Chinese Zhongqiujie (Moon Festival or Mid-Autumn Festival), Korean Ch'usok (Harvest Moon Festival), and the Vietnamese Têt-Trung-Thu (Mid-Autumn Festival) will be celebrated by many Asian Americans beginning tonight, September 12, 2011.
The Moon Festival is a traditional celebration of the Autumn harvest. Chinese legends tell of a Moon Maiden, who, on the 15th night of the 8th lunar moon, little children can see resplendent in the full moon. Upon this magical occasion, children who make their wishes to this lady of the moon will find their dreams come true. The Moon Festival is also often called the Women's Festival, as the moon, like woman, is elegant and beautiful. On this holiday, Chinese families get together, watch the moon and eat moon cakes. Moon cakes, pastries with sweet fillings of red bean and lotus seed paste, are exchanged as gifts.
During Ch'usok, Koreans begin the day with rites honoring ancestors. Families visit the graves of their ancestors to bow and clean the area for the coming winter. Community activities include music, dance (like Kanggangsuwollae, an ancient circle dance), martial arts demonstrations, and food. A Ch'usok favorite is Songp'yon, crescent-shaped rice cakes stuffed with sesame seeds, chestnut paste or beans. Like the Chinese Moon Festival, Ch'usok is a time to give thanks and reaffirm familial and community ties.
For Vietnamese, Têt-Trung-Thu (tet-troong-thoo) is one of the most popular family holidays. Vietnamese families plan their activities around their children on this special day. In traditional Vietnamese society, parents were working so hard to prepare for the harvest that they left the children playing by themselves. To make up for lost time, parents would use the Mid-Autumn festival as an opportunity to show their love and appreciation for their children. Têt-Trung-Thu activities are often centered around children and education. Parents buy lanterns for their children so that they can participate in a candlelit lantern procession at dawn. Lanterns represent brightness while the procession symbolizes success in school. Other children's activities include arts and crafts in which children make facemasks and lanterns. Children also perform traditional Vietnamese dances for adults and participate in contests for prizes and scholarships.
The Chinese Moon Festival is on the 15th of the 8th lunar month. It's also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival. Chinese culture is deeply embedded in traditional festivals. Just like Christmas and Thanksgiving in the West, the Moon Festival is one of the most important traditional events for the Chinese.
Moon Festivals are full of stories. Legend says that Chang Er flew to the moon, where she has lived ever since. You might see her dancing on the moon during the Moon Festival. The Moon Festival is also an occasion for family reunions. When the full moon rises, families get together to watch the full moon, eat moon cakes, and sing moon poems. With the full moon, the legend, the family and the poems, you can't help thinking that this is really a perfect world. That is why the Chinese are so fond of the Moon Festival.
The festival is a romantic one. A perfect night for the festival is if it is a quiet night without a silk of cloud and with a little mild breeze from the sea. Lovers spend such a romantic night together tasting the delicious moon cake with some wine while watching the full moon. Even for a couple who can't be together, they can still enjoy the night by watching the moon at the same time so it seems that they are together at that hour. A great number of poetry has been devoted to this romantic festival. Hope the Moon Festival will bring you happiness.