East Meets West

East Meets West
Sep 04, 2008 By eChinacities.com

The Mid-autumn festival originated in China, but many other countries including South Korea, Vietnam, Japan, as well as western cities with large Asian populations, also celebrate this important event.

The Moon Festival in China
People in different parts of China have different ways to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival. In Guangzhou in South China, a huge lantern show is a big attraction for local citizens. Thousands of differently shaped lanterns are lit, forming a fantastic contrast with the bright moonlight.

In East China's Zhejiang Province, watching the flood tide of the Qian-tang River during the Mid-Autumn Festival is not only a must for local people, but also an attraction for those from other parts of the country. The ebb and flow of tides coincide with the waxing and waning of the moon as it exerts a strong gravitational pull. In mid autumn, the sun, earth and moon send out strong gravitational forces upon the seas. The south of the Qiantang River is shaped like a bugle. So the flood tide, which forms at the narrow mouth, is particularly impressive. Spectators crowd on the riverbank, watching the roaring waves. At its peak, the tide rises as high as three and a half meters.

The Moon Festival in Vietnam
In Vietnam, Têt-Trung-Thu (tet-troong-thoo) or the Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the most popular family holidays. It is held on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month.

Vietnamese families plan their activities around their children on this special day. Appropriately, the Mid-Autumn Festival is also called the Children's Festival. 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. Like the Chinese, Vietnamese parents tell their children fairy tales and serve moon cakes and other special treats under the silvery moon. A favorite folklore is about a carp that wanted to become a dragon. There's also a story about how the Moon Lady ascended to the moon. A man named Chu Coi found a lucky tree that had special healing powers. Because this tree was sacred, people were forbidden to urinate at the foot of this tree.

The Moon Festival in Australia
Traditionally, the middle of autumn is the end of the harvest, when people return home for a reunion, gathering with friends and family. In Australia, 'mid autumn' happens to be early spring and it gives the festival a new meaning - "the first full moon of the new season is a nostalgic time: Winter is behind us and the energy of summer is on the horizon".

Every year, over 600,000 people of Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean descent celebrate the Moon Festival across Australia. In Sydney Chinatown, the celebrations would usually take the form of street market with food and craft stalls and a stage where traditional entertainment is performed. Another popular form of celebration in Sydney is the harbor cruise under the moonlight where families and friends can get together to enjoy foods of the festival, good laughter and appreciate the beauty of the full moon.

Some times there are also groups who would organize lantern shows in local parks. Some schools would organize students to re-enact folklores as part of the school Moon Festival celebrations.

The Moon Festival in South Korea
Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as Chusok or the Korean Thanksgiving, 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, South 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 South 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.

The Moon Festival in Singapore
Mid-Autumn Festival is also known as ''Harvest Festival'', which is one of the most well known Chinese Festival none other than the ''moon festival''. The date of Mid-autumn Festival also known as Chinese Moon Festival is on the 15th moon day of 8th Chinese lunar month (Chicken month).

This is a day to worship the moon god. According to folk legend, this day is also the birthday of the earth god (T'u-ti Kung). This festival signals that the year's hard work in the fields will soon come to an end, with only the harvest left to attend to. People use this opportunity to express their gratitude to heaven (represented by the moon) and earth (symbolized by the earth god) for the blessings they have enjoyed over the past year.

The Chinese believe in praying to the moon god for protection, family unity, and good fortune. The round "moon cakes" eaten on this festival are symbolic of family unity and closeness. Pomelos are also eaten on this day. The Chinese word for "pomelo" or "grapefruit" is yu, which is homophonous with the word for "protection," yu, expressing the hope that the moon god gives them protection. Moon gazing is another essential part of this festival. On this day, the moon is at its roundest and brightest. This is also a time for lovers to tryst and pray for togetherness, symbolized by the roundness of the moon. Unlike most other Chinese festivals, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a low-key holiday, characterized by peace and elegance.

The Moon Festival in Japan
In Japan, this holiday is called Tsukimi. People gather at lakes or in special moon-viewing pavilions and eat "moon-viewing noodles": thick white udon in broth with an egg yolk floating on top.

The Moon Festival in Hong Kong
Hong Kong's Mid-Autumn Festival, as it is popularly known in the city, is, aside from Chinese New Year, Hong Kong's biggest festival.

The Mid-Autumn festival sees the city draped in colorful ribbons and decorated with elaborate displays of lanterns, while restaurants will be serving up a variety of festival moon cakes, all this, as well as parades, dragon dances and celebrations around the city.

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