Celebrating The Moon: 5 ways to enjoy Mid-Autumn Festival

Sep 17 2021, 8:41 pm

Written for Daily Hive by Lorraine Lowe, Executive Director, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.

Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节 Zhōngqiūjié), also called Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival, is celebrated on the eighth month and 15th day in the Chinese Lunar calendar.

The ancient celebratory practise of moon worship originated over 3,000 years ago and is believed to bring good luck, a bountiful harvest, and lifelong happiness.

Today, it’s a time to give thanks and spend quality time with your friends and loved ones.

Here are five ways you can celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival.

Abundance of Food

Mid-Autumn Festival is the second-largest annual festival in Chinese tradition, next to Lunar New Year.

Each year, our family gathers together for a meal at my eldest sibling’s home, where we catch up over feast-worthy dishes. Our annual Mid-Autumn meal always consists of the legendary “Kam Gok Yuen” BBQ duck from Chinatown BBQ, Grandma Lowe’s recipe of Spareribs with Squash to commemorate longevity and the harvest, Mother-in-law Ling’s Green Onion and Ginger Crab over noodles, Pork and Chive Dumplings from Dicky Dumps for abundance, finishing off with some sweet “Sha Tin Yao” (pomelo fruit), and of course, Mooncakes, which has really taken an interesting and modernized twist these days.

Mooncakes are the quintessential Mid-Autumn Festival dessert. Traditionally, the round-shaped, intricately designed cakes symbolize the moon and togetherness. They usually feature lotus seed paste with a salted egg yolk inside. However, our family has fallen in love with the various modern versions – snow skin with custard and/or ice cream fillings, buttery crusts, nutty centres, and tea-infused flavours…”Hou Zeng!” (Very delicious!)

You can find traditional mooncakes at most Chinese bakeries. Pre-ordering is always recommended. Snow skin and other modern takes are available at a variety of places across Metro Vancouver, including Chinatown’s Buttermere, Beaucoup Bakery, and TWG Tea Salon.

Art of Lanterns

Mid-Autumn Festival

Mid-Autumn at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen (Photo: Lorraine Lowe)

The lighting of lanterns symbolizes a bright future, happiness and success. The higher you hang them, the luckier you get! Paper lanterns often light the way and are seen at all Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations.

They are readily available at select specialty shops around Metro Vancouver. My family’s favourite spot to pick up lanterns is at our very own Eight Treasures Shop located in the Garden, Bamboo Village and Gum Wing Trading on East Pender Street in Chinatown.

You can kick-off festivities at home by decorating your garden or interior with lanterns.

Participate in Local Mid-Autumn Festival Activities

Mid-Autumn Festival

Autumn at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen (Photo: Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden)

September is often a month full of cultural activities leading up to and during Mid-Autumn Festival. Examples include the inaugural Light Up Chinatown, followed by the Fire Dragon Festival and Noodlelicious Festival, Concord Pacific Dragon Boat Festival, and the annual Mid-Autumn celebrations and special programming at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.

Check your local listings for everything that is happening around town, especially these days as most events require pre-booking tickets in advance due to COVID protocols. Most of these events are family-friendly. 

Revel Under the Full Moon

Mid-Autumn Festival


Moon and Star-gazing is a popular activity during the first few days of Mid-Autumn Festival.

People hope to catch a glimpse of a full moon, and sometimes a super full moon, depending on the year. It’s a popular time for beautiful photography. Families often come together to see the full moon, perhaps before or after their family reunion meal.

With the support of the Concord Pacific Dragonboat Festival, HR MacMillan will be hosting moon watching activities at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden from 8 pm to 9 pm on Tuesday, September 21 and Friday, September 24, 2021.

Power of the Osmanthus

The Osmanthus flower is a common flower that blooms during Mid-Autumn Festival.

Tradition says Osmanthus symbolizes wealth, auspiciousness, and harmony. You can often find Osmanthus in a variety of Chinese desserts, as well as tea.

Stop by Chinatown’s Chinese Tea Shop, speak with tea masters Daniel Lui or Treasure Green Tea’s Olivia Cheung to find a great selection of Osmanthus Oolong tea to warm you up this fall season.

Although international travel may be limited this year, there are many local activities to engage in celebrating this festive holiday. No matter how you decide to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival this year, I encourage everyone to try something new – be adventurous and explore a Chinese delicacy or engage in a fun cultural experience. As the famous Chinese proverb goes, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

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