“May we live long and share the beauty of the moon together, even if we are hundreds of miles apart.”
This line by Su Dongpo from a famous Song dynasty poem captures the spirit of Mid-Autumn Festival, a long-celebrated event with roots in many East Asian cultures. This Friday, September 10, from 6-7:30 p.m., all are welcome in Village Green Park to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival at the last Global Grub and Groove event of the summer, including live entertainment and delicious food (for purchase).
What is Mid-Autumn Festival?
People first celebrated Mid-Autumn Festival in ancient China to give thanks for a bountiful harvest and the gifts of family, tracing back to the story of Hou Yi and Chang’e. There are many different versions of the legend of Hou Yi and Chang’e, goddess of the moon.
Chang’e was married to an expert archer, Hou-Yi. When 10 suns rose in the sky, crops died, and people suffered. At the request of the Emperor of Heaven, Hou-Yi used his archery skills to shoot down nine of the 10 suns to save the Earth. Hou-Yi became a hero and received an immortality elixir as a reward, which he planned to share with his wife. However, Chang’e took the immortality elixir herself and floated up to the moon, where she lives only with the company of a jade rabbit.
In Vietnam, the Mid-Autumn Festival, or Tết Trung Thu, was originally a chance for parents to do something special with their children after working hard during the harvest season. It was held under the full moon, representing fullness and prosperity of life. The holiday is celebrated much like a combination of Halloween and Thanksgiving in the United States, with children parading in the streets, singing and carrying colorful lanterns.
Legend tells of a carp spirit that once killed many on Mid-Autumn night. People had to stay inside until a wise man made a carp-shaped lantern with a stick in its belly. The evil carp spirit was terrified by the light from the carp-shaped lanterns and didn’t dare go out on Mid-Autumn night again.
Today, many Asian cultures celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival, including Japan (Tsukimi) and Korea (Chuseok).
Notable Traditions & Symbols
- Mooncakes: The earliest mooncakes date back to the Chinese Shang period (1600-1046 B.C.). During the Yuan Dynasty, mooncakes were a medium for communication to overthrow the Mongols; people hid messages inside mooncakes distributed to Chinese residents. Today, mooncakes are symbols of harmony, family reunion, and good fortune.
- Lanterns: Lanterns are a primary symbol of celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival. They light the way to spend time with family and friends at night while appreciating the moon and can symbolize letting go of the past.
- Rabbits: In Chinese folklore, the moon rabbit, called yué tù, is portrayed as a companion of the moon goddess, Chang’e, constantly pounding the elixir of life for her. In Vietnam, the moon rabbit is called Tho Trang. It was put on the moon after it was kind and willing enough to sacrifice itself to feed the Man of the Moon who was disguised as a beggar.
Celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival at Global Grub & Groove!
On Friday night, we hope you’ll join friends and neighbors for a community celebration of Mid-Autumn festival from 6-7:30 p.m., including:
- Chinese Youth Dance Performances with WaHaHa Youth Club
- Vocal Performance with Thuan Stevens of Nam Art Academy
- Chinese Juggling with Apex Diabolo
- Dragon Dance and Kung Fu Demo with Seattle Shaolin Kungfu Academy
- Delicious Vietnamese food for purchase (5:30-7:30 p.m.) from Mámì Tran Food Truck
- Mochi and other ice cream treats for purchase (5:30-7:30 p.m.) from Issaquah Ice Cream Trike
- Lantern craft for kids (while supplies last)
- Mooncakes (while supplies last)
Hope to see you there, and happy Mid-Autumn Festival – wishing you a perfect life just like the roundest moon!
Lindsey Pinkston is the Highlands Council community program manager and a Wisteria Park resident.