The Moon Festival is an exciting time for Chinese children. It is a rare event that a child is allowed to stay up way past bedtime, and spent outdoors at that!
The Moon Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese lunar calendar. This year 2008, the Chinese Moon Festival falls on September 14th. It is the time for families to get together again, to enjoy a good dinner and enjoy the moon outdoors.
To children, this Chinese holiday can be considered their lantern festival. Some children make their own lanterns before the night of the Eight-fifteen. After the moon festival dinner, the family prepares to go out and moon-gaze. Children are asked to carry colorful lanterns to light the path of the adults as they go to honor the moon. These lanterns may be made by the child, or store-bought. Lanterns may be shaped like rabbits, fish, dragons, butterflies and other animals. Carrying a horse lantern is very special for a child, as it is believed that the moon travels with the speed of a horse.
Mooncakes are popular fare as the families gaze upon the moon. But for children, thick wheat flour cookies are also given. These wheat cookies may be shaped like fish crabs, dragons and pigs. Pig cookies are available in bright colored plastic containers with red carrying string.
After the family picks a spot, prayers are offered to give thanks for blessings and for good family ties.
Elders tell the young people the legends about the moon and why this festival is celebrated. The young people listen intently and look at the moon, some hoping to catch a glimpse of the Lady on the moon.