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Moon Festival

Mandarin Phrases for the Mid-Autumn Festival

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One of the most important holidays in Chinese culture is the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as Moon Festival.

Since the Moon Festival is at harvest time, it is a good occasion to celebrate the abundance of Mother Nature. Moon Festival is a time to gather with family and friends under the full moon sky while eating moon cake, pomelo fruit, and barbecued delicacies.

Moon Festival Date

Moon Festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, so the date on the Georgian calendar is different from year to year, but it is always on the full moon. The dates for Moon Festival are as follows:

  • 2009 - October 3
  • 2010 - September 22
  • 2011 - September 12
  • 2012 - September 30
  • 2013 - September 19
  • 2014 - September 8
  • 2015 - September 27

History of Moon Festival

As with most Chinese festivals, there is a story to go along with Moon Festival. There are many versions of the Moon Festival legend, but most of them involve the archer Hou Yi and his wife Chang’e.

Many years ago, there were ten suns in the sky. Crops could not grow and rivers ran dry, so the people were dying of hunger and thirst. Hou Yi took his bow and arrows and shot down nine of the ten suns, saving the people.

As a reward, the Western Queen Mother gave Hou Yi a potion. If Hou Yi shares that potion with his wife, they will both live forever, but if only one of them takes the potion, he or she will become a god.

Hou Yi and Chang’e plan to take the potion together. But one of Hou Yi’s enemies, Feng Meng, hears about the potion and plans to steal it. One night, on a full moon, Feng Meng kills Hou Yi, then forces Chang’e to give him the potion.

Rather than give the evil man the potion, Chang’e drinks it all herself. She starts to rise into heaven, but she feels a close connection to the world of the mortals, and wants to stay close to them, so she stops at the moon, the closest body to earth.

Moon Cakes

The traditional food of Moon Festival is Moon Cake, which is a pastry stuffed with filling such as egg yolk, lotus seed paste, red bean paste, coconut, walnuts, or dates. The tops of Moon cakes usually have Chinese characters representing longevity or harmony.

Moon Festival Vocabulary

Here are some Mandarin phrases for Mid-Autumn Festival:

Audio links are marked with ►

EnglishPinyin Traditional Characters Simplified Characters
Moon Festival zhōng qiū jié 中秋節 中秋节
Hou Yi Hòu Yì 后羿 后羿
Chang'e Cháng'é 嫦娥 嫦娥
moon cake yuè bǐng 月餅 月饼
admiring the moon shǎng yuè 賞月 赏月
reunion tuán yuán 團圓 团圆
barbecue kǎo ròu 烤肉 烤肉
pomelo fruit yòuzi 柚子 柚子
give presents sònglǐ 送禮 送礼
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