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Macau Holidays and Festivals, Mid-Autumn Festival

The Mid-Autumn Festival: Lantern-parade and mooncakes

The Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month of the Chinese calendar (usually around mid or late September), a date that parallels the Autumn Equinox of the solar calendar.

 

At this time, the moon is at its fullest and brightest, marking an ideal time to celebrate the abundance of the summer's harvest.

 

The festival, also known as the Mooncake festival or the Lantern Festival, is one of the two most important holidays in the Chinese calendar (the other being the Chinese Lunar New Year) and is dating back over 3,000 years to China's Zhou Dynasty.

 

Many legends and folk stories are related to this holiday and its traditions. According to one of them, the Mid-Autumn Festival commemorates an uprising in China against the Mongol rulers of the Yuan Dynasty in the 14th century As group gatherings were banned those days, it was impossible to make plans for a rebellion... Noting that the Mongols did not eat mooncakes, the advisor to the Chinese rebel leader came up with the idea of timing the rebellion to coincide with the Mid-Autumn Festival.   He sought permission to distribute thousands of moon cakes to the Chinese residents in the city to bless the longevity of the Mongol emperor.  Inside each cake, however, was inserted a piece of paper with the message: "Kill the Tatars on the 15th day of the Eighth Moon".   On the night of the Moon Festival, the rebels successfully attacked and overthrew the government.

 

The traditional food of this festival, therefore, is the mooncake, of which there are many different varieties. 

 

Another famos legend relates this date to the mythical goddess Chang'e and her flight to the moon. The story of Chang'e is familiar to every Chinese, and a favourite subject of poets.  Unlike many lunar deities in other cultures who personify the moon, Chang'e only lives on the moon.

 

The festival is also known as the Lantern Festival and various parts of Macau, especially Public parks and beaches, are ablaze with thousands of lanterns in all colors, sizes and shapes.

In Macau the traditional spots for that are the Praia Grande and Nam Van Lakes, all gardens and Hac-Sa and Cheoc-Van beaches in Coloane. People sometimes leave their lanterns floating on the water.

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The Chung Yeung Festival (also known as the Feast of Ancestors,  Festival of Ascending Heights or Double Ninth Festival) is observed on the ninth day of the ninth month in the Chinese calendar (usually around October).  According to Chinese tradition, this is a potentially dangerous date.  To protect against the danger, it is customary to climb a high mountain, drink chrysanthemum wine, and wear the zhuyu plant, Cornus officinalis. (Both chrysanthemum and zhuyu are considered to have cleansing qualities and are used on other occasions to air out houses and cure illnesses.) Also on this holiday, some Chinese also visit the graves of their ancestors to pay their respects.

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Next in line: The year's longest night and Christmas