Last week was the first time I experienced the Mid Autumn Festival in Hong Kong, and it was incredible. I grew up in the United States in a Chinese American family. I have always viewed the Mid Autumn Festival as a small and cozy holiday. As a little girl, I looked forward to this day every year. It meant that my mom would cook a delicious Chinese meal. Most importantly, it meant that I could finish my day with a delicious mooncake. I would cherish every bite that I would take, for I knew that I would not get to eat one until next year’s Mid Autumn Festival.
My perspectives about the Mid Autumn Festival as cozy holiday changed after experiencing it in Hong Kong. I learned about the significance behind the holiday, and that it is much more than a day to eat moon cakes.
The Mid Autumn Festival originated from ancient Chinese times. This was when people used phases of the moon to judge time. According to the Chinese, the moon is the brightest and fullest during the middle of the autumn season. It was originally marked as a day to celebrate the end of the harvest season. It was when people would thank the Earth for the crops it yielded. More importantly, it meant that people enjoyed huge feasts. Nowadays, it is a day that Chinese families come together. They spend time with their loved ones and to eat, enjoy mooncakes, and enjoy the sight of a full and bright moon.
In Hong Kong, every street contains an advertisement for moon cakes. These ads depicting happy Chinese families enjoying the sweet treat. Mooncakes are one of the best-preserved traditions of the Mid Autumn Festival. If you are reading this and have not tried a mooncake, it is definitely a must that you try it ASAP!
It struck me that the Mid Autumn Festival was not just celebrated for one day. It is celebrated from the week leading up to it until a few days after the official holiday. Students receive a day off from school the day after. They are expected to be enjoying their time with their families. The streets of the city are decorated with lanterns and lights. This transforms otherwise plain views into sparkling sights. The most beautiful lights are located at the Victoria Park Carnival. Crowds travel to see lanterns brighten the nighttime. Many families sit on picnic blankets to take in the moon and the light displays. Children run around with colored lanterns and hold blinking lights. An illuminated paper dragon ran around the streets, bringing joy to everyone it passed. The Victoria Park Carnival was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.
I have grown to have a greater appreciation for its significance and celebration. Now, alongside my cozy memories of this holiday are memories of bright lights and joyful crowds. Hong Kong really knows how to celebrate the Mid Autumn Festival.