Marking the end of the autumn harvest, the Mid-Autumn Festival was traditionally a time to give thanks to the gods. It is also a time of year that the moon is at its brightest, which is why lunar legends have always been attached to the celebration.
One of the most notable is the story of Chang Er, the wife of a merciless king who downed the elixir of immortality he had intended to drink, so as to save her people from his tyrannical rule. The tale goes that she ascended to the moon upon her brave act, and has been worshipped by the Chinese as a Moon Goddess ever since.
When dusk falls
Since the Mid-Autumn Festival is about lunar appreciation, celebrations go into full swing once the sun goes down. Moon-viewing parties are a popular way to enjoy the occasion, as family and friends sit in gardens lit by the soft glow of paper lanterns, sip tea, nibble on mooncakes, and if so inspired, compose poetry in venerable Tang Dynasty fashion.
Lanterns all a-glow