The Chinese Moon Festival

Northern Dispatch
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In my years of teaching Asian civilization, I got particularly interested in China’s ancient kingdoms, particularly those actively involved in the region’s trade. It helped me appreciate how the Chinese jars, beads, and plates were able to reach the Cordilleras. These Chinese artifacts, now in the possession of Igorot elders, are favorites among the tribesmen, who call these “tawid” (heritage). These items are passed on from one generation to another either during community marriages or when the ascendant owner bequeaths it to his or her descendants when death is near.

Various Chinese traditional events, like the Chinese New Year, also caught my interest.

An event that the Chinese are celebrating this month is the Moon Festival. My intense curiosity about the subject led me to write this article, which contains information culled from various sources.

The Chinese call the event Zhong Qiu Jie. Its translations in English language are moon festival, harvest moon, and mid-autumn festival. In the Chinese Lunar Calendar, the festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the eight month.

With the Western calendar, however, the date of the festival changes every year. That explains why the past moon festivals fell on various dates: Sept.14 in 2008, Sept. 25 in 2007, Oct. 6 in 2006, Sept. 18 in 2005, Sept. 28 in 2004, Sept. 11 in 2003, Sept. 21 in 2002, and Oct.1 in 2001. For this year, the Moon Festival falls on Oct. 3.

Family Reunion, Bonding

The moon festival is a significant traditional event to the Chinese. It is a time for family reunions and strengthening bonds between relatives. It is a time for thanksgiving as manifested by the abundance of food prepared by the family. I learned that their favorite traditional foods are those colored red. Such color signifies good luck, according to the Chinese. In the various foods prepared, moon cakes are among those traditionally offered.

The yearly moon festival falls on the day when the moon is in its roundest form and at its brightest. The Chinese believe that such roundness and brightness signify a perfect world in its completeness and abundance. The moon cake is also an important food for the Chinese during this festival.


The moon festival is an ancient traditional practice. Various literatures and Chinese sources state that the event dates back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). That was a historic period when China’s economy and commerce reached its peak. Tang merchant ships traversed the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf, other countries in Asia including the Philippines, and Africa.

The traditional Moon Festival is associated by the Chinese with various legends. One legend tells that a girl named Chang Er flew to the moon, stayed there, and never returned to earth. According to this legend, during the moon festival, Chang Er can be seen dancing on the moon.

Baguio Celebration

In Baguio City, which the Chinese had helped to propel to its present prestigious status, the moon festival is an important yearly affair for the Chinese community and their friends.

The Baguio Filipino-Cantonese Association in the Cordillera had their celebration at the Margarita Hall of the Supreme Hotel owned by Peter Ng. They shared various traditional foods for this very important event. (Northern Dispatch / Posted by Bulatlat)

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