Chinese Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is quickly approaching – this year it falls on October 4th! As we send our children off to school with love (or in my case, send them to the dining room table), I can’t help but reflect on all for which I’m thankful. During this incredibly busy season, the famous Moon Festival holiday offers an opportunity to take a break and simply be grateful for our family and all of our blessings.
Mid-Autumn Moon Festival dates back to the Tang Dynasty in 618AD, and is a very popular Chinese celebration of thanksgiving and gratitude. Families reunite and give thanks for the harvest and family unity. The holiday falls on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month (in September or October) when the moon is brightest and fullest in the sky. Moon Festival is celebrated on this day because the big, round moon symbolizes togetherness and reunion in the Chinese culture.
Celebrations are made by joining together to look at the moon in the evening while chatting and visiting with one another. People share dinner together, eat traditional moon cakes and a few other delicious treats, and tell old legends of the Jade Rabbit and Chang’e that make up some of the Moon Festival traditions.
I simply adore the themes of family togetherness and thankfulness. Even though we aren’t in China, the Moon Festival offers an opportunity to be intentional in sharing those themes with our loved ones. It’s a time when we can share with our children about how appreciated and valued they are. In addition, Moon Festival presents a creative potential gateway into the sometimes difficult conversations of first families for our children who were adopted from China.
Because although the holiday is meant to represent thankfulness for families, it has the possibility of representing loss for many of our children as they think about their first families. Why not take the opportunity to be available for that dialogue, if our children will give us the honor?
Reading the beautifully illustrated adoption book, We See the Moon, might be a fantastic way to begin. It isn’t a traditional Moon Festival children’s book, but it fits perfectly as it eloquently and sensitively addresses difficult first family questions from a child’s perspective.
There are other fun ways that Mid-Autumn Moon Festival could be recognized as well:
- Read Moon Festival children’s books together.
- Decorate your home with a few traditional Chinese lanterns that commemorate Chang’e.
- Or make your own lanterns together. Idea 1, Idea 2, Idea 3, Idea 4, Idea 5, Idea 6, Idea 7
- Craft a sweet art project together.
- Buy traditional Moon Cakes from a local Chinese grocery store or order them online.
- Or spend an afternoon baking delicious Moon Cookies together. (Our family loves these as an alternative to Moon Cakes.)
- Sip tea together (and munch on Moon Cookies!).
- Go out for Chinese food at a local restaurant, or cook your own feast at home.
- Host a moonlit picnic for family or close friends. Include round foods like apples, pears, grapes, and melons. Consider reading some Chinese poetry aloud too.
- Roast marshmallows (another round food) over a fire pit in the evening.
This is a fantastic time to create family traditions, no matter how simple or extravagant they may be. Weaving Chinese holidays into our family celebrations doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming, especially as different seasons of our lives bring different challenges.
Even though celebrating Moon Festival in our family doesn’t look like it does in China, the point is that we are together.
Being grateful for one another and showing each other how valued we are is what truly matters.
Zhōng qiū jié kuài lè! Happy Moon Festival, my friends!