The Mid-Autumn Festival (A.K.A. Mooncake Festival) is celebrated in many East Asian communities. Traditionally it falls on the 15th of the Eighth month in Chinese Lunar Calendar. This year, it will fall on the 21th September.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is the second most prominent festival for Chinese, after Chinese New Year. On the day of Mid-Autumn, families will celebrate it by gathering for dinners together, eating mooncakes, worshipping the moon and displaying lighting paper lanterns. In many Asian countries, the festival will also be celebrated with dragon dances. In the past, people also took the Mid-Autumn Festival as a celebration of their hard work and harvest. Pomelos are one of the harvest foods that will be eaten and enjoyed at their freshest and most nutritious during the festival.
We especially went to the wet market in Yuen Long to buy our Mid Autumn Festival Lantern!! We had read articles that the Tai Kiu market is known for its hand made (versus industrial ones) 😃 😃. All the pictures in this article are from there.
History of lanterns
In ancient times, like in most cultures the primary use of lanterns was as lighting tools. Indeed, they were used primarily as light source for both indoor and outdoor.
From our research we learnt that it is difficult to discern the original purpose of lanterns in connection to the festival, but it is certain that lanterns were not used in conjunction with moon-worship prior to the Tang dynasty (618-906 CE).
History books tells us that the ancient Chinese Lanterns traditional crafts, are originated in the Western Han Dynasty more than 2,000 years ago. Now, appreciating and playing with lanterns are still welcomed by many people, second in popularity popular only to the Lantern Festival. Chinese Moon Festival lanterns are mostly welcomed in south China and there are no large lantern shows being held like in the Lantern Festival. The Mooncake Festival lanterns are mainly treasured among families and children.
Over time, making lantern has become a handicraft and ornamentals and their use has also changed. Today lanterns are an integral part of festivities in China and used in celebration and worship. They are also used to decorate homes and public places. An important tradition involving lanterns is to write riddles on them and have other people (especially kids) try to guess the answers (traditional Chinese: 燈謎; pinyin: dēng mí; literally: "lantern riddle").
Symbolic meanings of lanterns
1. Create a festive spirit
Several days before the festival, people hang these Moon Festival lanterns to create happy festive atmosphere and welcome the coming of the festival.
Traditionally, about 10 days before the festival, people in Guangdong and Hong Kong make Mid-Autumn Festival lanterns with bamboo strips. These lanterns are usually in the shape of birds, fish, and fruits, covered with colorful papers and painted with Chinese characters “Celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival”.
On the festival night, the lanterns with burning candles inside are tied to the bamboo poles and hung in the heights of the house, commonly known as “erect Mid-Autumn”. The family members then gather under the lantern to have fun.
2. Family first
The Mid-Autumn festival celebrates family and friendship ties. Family members gather together to admire and pay homage to the moon and eat mooncakes. Some families make a variety of Mid-Autumn lanterns as a family activity. By making it during festivals, the crafts can be passed down to later generations. This tradition however is fast disappearing due to busy lifestyles and ease, with many preferring to buy readymade lanterns.
3. Pray for babies
In olden times, during the Mid-Autumn Festival the mother would send a message through the Mooncake Festival lantern to her newly married daughter, wishing her to add to the family. This is also because “lantern” and “man” have the similar pronunciation. And there is also a hope that the daughter have a bright future.
Crazy about lanterns 🤪 🤪
Typically, lanterns are made of simple materials such as bamboo, rattan or wire for the frame; delicate-colored papers or silk fabrics for the body/ shade.
The lanterns can have different shapes and designs – animals, plants, flowers or etc. Beautiful lanterns can be found at stationary shops or paper crafting shops in Hong Kong.
DIY Simple and colorful lantern for kids:
There are so many DIY tutorials for Mid Autumn Festival Lanterns!! So we thought that better than repeating the ones you can so easily find on the net, we would just curate some of those tutorials we liked best:
Let's all try to make some lanterns this year.
In Pic: The Moon Cakes are a must during the Festival.
Our own little secret: The mid autumn festival is best enjoyed together with your family and friends with a (preferably hand made) lantern in one hand and a moon cake in the other we thinks 😄😄.