Now, let's get to know the origin and real history of Mid-Autumn Festival and how it started.
The Origin of Mid-Autumn Festival
The Moon Festival dates back over 3,000 years, to moon worshiping in the Shang Dynasty (1600–1046 BC). In ancient China, emperors followed the rite of offering sacrifices to the Sun in spring and to the Moon in autumn. The reason Chinese emperors worshiped the moon in the autumn, was that they believed that the practice would bring them a plentiful harvest the next year.
In an ancient book "Culture of Zhou Dynasty" 《周礼》, it already had the term "Mid-Autumn". Later, aristocrats and literary figures helped expand the ceremony to common people. They enjoyed the full, bright moon on that day, worshipped it and expressed their thoughts and feelings under it.
The term mid-autumn (中秋) first appeared in Rites of Zhou, a written collection of rituals of the Western Zhou Dynasty (1046–771 BCE).
Empress Dowager Cixi (late 19th century) enjoyed celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival so much that she would spend the period between the thirteenth and seventeenth day of the eighth month staging elaborate rituals
By the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the Mid-Autumn Festival had become a fixed festival.
It became even grander in the Song Dynasty (960-1279). In the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, it grew to be a major festival of China.
Mid-Autumn Festival In Japan
Tsukimi (月見) or Otsukimi, literally moon-viewing, refers to Japanese festivals honoring the autumn moon. The celebration of the full moon typically takes place on the 15th day of the eighth month of the traditional Japanese lunisolar calendar; the waxing moon is celebrated on the 13th day of the ninth month.
During the Heian period elements of the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival were introduced to Japan. Members of the aristocratic class would hold moon-viewing events aboard boats in order to view the moon's reflection on the surface of the water. The writing of tanka poetry was also an element of such mid-autumn moon viewing festivities.
From 862 until 1683, the Japanese calendar was arranged so that the full moon fell on the 13th day of each month. In 1684, however, the calendar was altered so that the new moon fell on the first day of each month, moving the full moon two weeks later, to the 15th day of the month. While some people in Edo (present-day Tokyo) shifted their Tsukimi activities to the 15th day of the month, others continued to observe the festival on the 13th day. Furthermore, there were various regional observances in some parts of Japan on the 17th day of the month, as well as Buddhist observances on the 23rd or the 26th day, all of which were used as pretexts for often late-night parties during the autumn throughout the Edo period. This custom was brought to a swift end during the Meiji period.
There are specific terms in Japanese to refer to occasions when the moon is not visible on the traditional mid-autumn evening, including Mugetsu (無月 literally: no-moon) and Ugetsu (雨月 rain-moon). Even when the moon is not visible, however, Tsukimi parties are held.
Tsukimi (月見) is now so popular in Japan that some people repeat the activities for several evenings following the appearance of the full moon during the eighth lunisolar month.
Mid-Autumn Festival In Korea
Chuseok (Korean: 추석 , 秋夕), originally known as hangawi (한가위, from archaic Korean for "the great middle (of autumn)"), is a major harvest festival and a three-day holiday in Korea celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar.
Historically and according to popular belief, Chuseok originates from gabae (hangul:가배). Gabae started during the reign of the third king of the kingdom of Silla (57 BC - AD 935), when it was a month-long weaving contest between two teams.
Come the day of Gabae, the team that had woven more cloth had won and was treated to a feast by the losing team. However, it is also said that Chuseok marks the day Sirra won a great victory over the rival kingdom of Baekje. It is believed that weaving competitions, archery competitions, and martial arts demonstrations were held as part of the festivities.
Many scholars also believe Chuseok may originate from ancient shamanistic cerebrations of the harvest moon. New harvests are offered to local deities and ancestors, which means Chuseok may have originated as a worship ritual. In some areas, if there is no harvest, worship rituals are postponed, or in areas with no annual harvest, Chuseok is not celebrated.
- Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival - Origin & History
- Celebrating Mid-Authumn Festival
- The Legend of Moon Goddess - Chang-Er (婵娥)
- Praying To Moon Goddess - 拜月娘
- The Jade Rabbit - Chang-Er's Pet