The Mid-Autumn Festival is held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar. It is a date when the moon is supposedly at its fullest and roundest. Traditionally on this day, adults will usually eat mooncakes and drink Chinese tea under the beautiful moon, while the little ones run around with their brightly-lit lanterns.
Mooncakes, which are the traditional eaten, are to Mid-Autumn Festival what mince pies are to Christmas. Mooncakes are usually stamped with Chinese characters indicating the name of the bakery and the type of filling used. Some bakeries will even stamp them with your family name so that you can give personalized ones to friends and family.
There are many legends about the Mid-Autumn Festival and the moon cakes. One myth holds that the Earth once had 10 suns circling it. 5000 years ago one day all 10 suns appeared at once, scorching the planet with their heat. A skillful archer named Hou Yi that the Earth was saved. He shot down 9 of the suns. He became the big hero at that time, but later he corrupted by fame and fortune, became a tyrannical leader. Chang-Er, his beautiful wife, could no longer stand by and watch him abuse his power so she left him and fled to the moon to escape his angry wrath. And thus began the legend of the beautiful woman in the moon, the Moon Fairy.
The second legend has it that during the Yuan Dynasty, an underground group led by Zhu Yuan Zang was determined to rid the country of Mongolian dominance. The moon cake was created to carry a secret message. When the cake was opened and the message read, an uprising was unleashed which successfully routed the Mongolians. It happened at the time of the full moon, which, some say, explains why mooncakes are eaten at this time.
All in all, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a family day for Chinese. It is the time for Chinese staying with their families. Eating the moon cakes, drinking the green tea and watching the round moon are most “important” and traditional things for Chinese.