No matter how busy they are, people always take time to enjoy reunion dinners with family and friends during Mid-Autumn Festival. Guangzhou people consider Mid-Autumn Festival a major family-reunion day, no less important than Spring Festival.
1. Bask in the moonlight
Mid-Autumn Festival, which is called "the birthday of moonlight", falls on the 15th of August according to the Chinese lunar calendar. On that day people get up early to pay respects to ancestors and immortals with moon cakes and fruit.
In the evening families enjoy reunion dinners together, and then go out to bask in the moonlight. Also, they erect a bamboo pole in front of the door on which colorful lamps and lanterns are hung. Offerings to the moon include moon cakes, shaddocks, taros, water chestnuts and bananas. After the ceremony, families eat porridge and river snails, and chat together until midnight.
2. The higher the lantern, the luckier the family
One of the more interesting Mid-Autumn Festival customs in Guangzhou is hanging up lanterns, which are made from bamboo strips shaped into fruits, birds, etc. When darkness falls, people place candles inside the lanterns and hang them from high parts of the house, like the balcony, the roof or from a tree. It is said that the higher the lanterns are hung, the luckier the family will be.
3. In the past, poor people joined "moon cake associations"
"In the old days, many poor families could not afford moon cakes." Back in the 1920s, many medium- or small-scale moon cake factories and tearooms organized "moon cake associations", which provided monthly payment plans for low-income families. After twelve months, the families would receive their moon cakes for Mid-Autumn Festival.
4. Eating river snails under the moon brightens the eyes
A perfect Mid-Autumn Festival could not take place without eating river snails cooked with perilla(a medicinal herb). According to old sayings, the more river snails you eat during Mid-Autumn Festival, the brighter your eyes will be.
5. Enjoying the festival lanterns
Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the three lantern festivals in China. In old times, lanterns were placed on the river to float during the Festival. Mid-Autumn lanterns are popular mainly in south China. In Foshan there are various kinds of festival lanterns, including sesame lanterns, eggshell lanterns, rice straw lanterns, fish scale lanterns and husk lanterns. In Nan'ning city of Guangxi Province, in addition to the paper lanterns which are made for children, there are many other simple lanterns, such as pumpkin lanterns and orange lanterns.
6. Fire Dragon Dance
The Fire Dragon Dance is the most traditional custom of Mid-Autumn Festival in Hong Kong. Starting on August 14th of the Chinese lunar calendar, the Grand Fire Dragon Dance activity is held in the Dakeng Region of Causeway Bay for three successive nights. The length of the fire dragon is more than 70 meters. 32 parts form the body, which is covered with burning incense sticks representing longevity.
7. Mid-Autumn customs in Chaoshan Region - swing higher for love
When the moon rises in the sky, Chaoshan youth dressed in their holiday best gather in front of a two-story-high swing decorated with colorful ribbons. According to the custom, women can only watch, but not participate, as the boys try to out-swing one another to compete for the love of the girls.
(by Ma Yin and Stephen Roach)