Mid-Autumn Festival


Since my family has few traditions, I find Chinese tradition to be extremely fascinating. The little mannerisms and interactions between people make a difference. Respect and family are of utmost importance, particularly in traditional households. I was told by a friend that Beijing ren can be described by a four character Chinese idiom: 不卑不亢 (bu bei bu kang). Difficult to translate into English, this phrase means something along the lines of, “neither supercilious nor obsequious.” Beijingers respect other’s positions/ status. There are other courteous manners that I learned about at the dinner table. Some manners may vary from family to family, but when two family members toast, the family members who is younger must position the top of their cup lower than that of the older family member. If you cannot reach a person across the table, you tap your glass against the table while maintaining eye contact with that person. I admire these little signs of respect in Chinese households.  Now that I’m on the topic of family, what better way to learn about family than through family reunions and celebrations. Today bring the first day of fall, I have decided to investigate the story behind the mid-autumn festival.


After Chinese New Year, the Mid-Autumn festival ranks as a close second in terms of importance. After doing individual research I asked one of my Chinese teachers to explain the significance of as well as her feelings toward this holiday. Her story matches up with the story I learned about through my research; however, I learned that there are many different legends associated with the holiday. One such myth revolves around a pair of lovers: Hou Yi and Chang E. When they were given an elixir of life, Chang E drank the potion on her own to protect Hou Yi. Once she drank the potion she ascended to the moon where her only companion is a rabbit. Every mid-autumn Chinese people take time out of their busy schedules to see the people they miss and love, to see their family members. Just as You Yi can only see his love during the mid-autumn festival when the moon shines especially bright, many Chinese seize the opportunity to arrange large family gatherings. Traditionally everyone eats moon cakes, a sort of cake-ish pastry with various fillings (ex. Red bean or lotus seed). I find the traditions of the mid-autumn festival to be extremely beautiful.


When I talked to my teacher she excitedly explained other crucial holidays to me such as the dragon boat festival, lantern festival, Chinese valentines. Chinese have many festivals. Personally, I associate the term “festival” with large public celebrations where communities gather together for the sake of merriment. Made evident through their festivals, public institutions, public land, etc, China truly emphasizes community. Another teacher mentioned to me, America values individualism; China values the collective.