Mid-Autumn Festival in China: Celebrate the Harvest Moon

Harvest Moon Festival - China
Photo: Teh Eng Koon – AFP/Getty Images

As the Oktoberfest festival is now underway in Munich, Germany – there is another popular festival about to take place in China. It’s an annual event called the Mid-Autumn, Harvest Moon or Mooncake Festival.

During the fall, the skies in China are often clear and the nights are crisp and sharp as the harsh summer heat dissipates. These ideal night sky conditions allow the moon to appear its brightest.

The Harvest Moon is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. The Mid-Autumn Festival therefore celebrates the moon’s appearance as the brightest and most beautiful throughout the year.

It’s long been an ancient tradition for the Chinese to enjoy the moon. Records show admiration for the moon goes back about 1,400 years. In fact, a visit to any number of historical palaces or classical gardens and one will likely discover one or more “Moon Viewing Pavilions.”

If you plan on being in China in the next few weeks, then you want to make plans for a special cruise and enjoy the Mid-Autumn Festival in China. From now until October 4, those lucky enough to be in China should travel on the Yangzi River on the amazing Sanctuary M.S. Yangzi Explorer.

Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer Ship
Photo: Sanctuary Retreats

This unforgettable tour provides an opportunity to personally experience the Harvest Moon or Mid-Autumn Festival. It’s important to note that this is one of China’s most important holidays. The date in the Western calendar changes yearly. This year it falls on Saturday, October 3, 2009.

The Harvest Moon or Mid-Autumn Festival is a day of family reunions much like Thanksgiving in the United States. On that day, as the moon is the roundest and brightest, it signals a time of abundance after the harvest.

During the Mid-Autumn Festival, children are delighted to stay up past midnight, parading multi-colored lanterns into the wee hours as families take to the streets to moon-gaze. It is also a romantic night for lovers, who sit holding hands on hilltops, riverbanks and park benches, captivated by the brightest moon of the year

The festival dates back to the Tang dynasty in 618 A.D., and as with many celebrations in China, there are ancient legends closely associated with it.

During this special, celebratory time, guides onboard the Sanctuary’s MS Yangzi Explorer will educate guests on many Chinese customs, share folk tales inspired by the festival, teach and play the game of Lantern Riddles and invite guests to sample some of the many varieties of the traditional and very delicious Moon Cake.

Cabins are still available (but act quickly), and rates during these peak season 3- and 4-night sails begin at $1,750 per person sharing in a deluxe cabin on the main deck. Please visit www.sanctuaryretreats.com to book this last minute Chinese cultural experience.