How do the Cantonese spend the Mid-Autumn Festival?

BY :Molly Wong

UPDATED :September 21, 2018


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As the second grandest traditional festival in China after Chinese New Year, the Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, September 24 this year.

It is primarily an evening celebration where families gather together to light lanterns, eat moon cakes and appreciate the round moon. The full moon is a symbol of family reunion, which is why that day is also known as the Festival of Reunion.

What do the Cantonese eat at the Mid-Autumn Festival?

As a tradition, families always eat round-shaped items during the festival dinner for good luck. Let's take a look at some of the auspicious round bites that Cantonese people eat to get their luck going.

Moon cake

We all know that moon cake is the most traditional and important food of the Mid-Autumn Festival. The deliciously filled cake is round in shape like the full moon, which is a symbol of prosperity and family reunion.


Pomegranate is a pleasing and colorful round fruit. It has a lot of seeds, which represent more children and more blessings in Guangdong.


Pomelo is not only round in shape, its Chinese name, you zi, is also a homophone for words that mean "bless the son."


The tradition of eating taro on Mid-Autumn Festival dates back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The Cantonese believe that eating taro during Mid-Autumn Festival can ward off evil spirits.

River snail

People believe that eating river snails on Mid-Autumn Festival can make the eyes clear. River snails are rich in vitamin A, which is an important substance in visual pigments.

Moreover, their meat is especially fat and delicious at this time of the year.

Nowadays, many families in Guangzhou eat fried river snails during the festival.

Water chestnut

Water chestnut is another traditional food for the Cantonese. Its Chinese name, ling jiao, is a homophone for words that mean "smart." After eating the sweet moon cake, mothers often prepare a bowl of water chestnut porridge for children. It can also be boiled in fresh or salt water, and then peeled off as a snack.

What do the Cantonese do at the Mid-Autumn Festival?

Worshiping the moon

Cantonese people used to put the "god of the moon" sign, peaches, watermelons, mooncakes and other offerings on a table at home or outdoors, and then knelt down and kowtowed one by one, praying for blessings from the "god of the moon".

Nowadays, this tradition is disappearing. It's rare to see families worshiping the moon in big cities. In some old towns or tourist cities, people will hold a ceremony to worship the moon in a square, park, or street, but this is more like a performance.

Making colorful lanterns

People make the lanterns in different shapes to be hung on trees and houses, in parks or floated on rivers, which together provide a beautiful scene at night.

Shua Lu Zai 耍禄仔

It is a popular children's game at the Mid-Autumn Festival in Guangdong. Kids in groups often hold various shapes of lanterns made of pomelo peel in their hands and parade the streets singing a local song "Shua Lu Ge." After having fun, they go home to eat moon cakes and other snacks.