Mid Autumn Festival – Zhong qiu Jie 中秋節
The Mid-Autumn Festival is a Chinese holiday that celebrates the full harvest moon. It falls on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar.
The most common symbol of the moon festival is the moon cake.(月餅). A moon cake is usually circular, has various fillings and is baked. Traditional moon cakes are “salty” and contain meat mixtures inside the thick skin. Some are as large as a pie. However, today, most people enjoy sweet moon cakes. Sweet moon cakes are filled with red bean, green bean and even a cooked round egg yolk. Nowadays, bakeries are more creative with fillings. Ice cream moon cakes (not baked) are very popular as well as moon cakes molded into various shapes and figures.(eg. Hello Kitty) It is customary for many employers to give a box of moon cakes to their employees. Also, many people will randomly share moon cakes with teachers, co-workers, friends or family members.
A few weeks before the moon festival, stores will promote their moon cakes with large displays and early ordering deals. The most popular stores sell out quickly. In Taiwan, the moon festival is a national holiday from work and school. At times, an extra day is added to make an extended 4 day weekend.
Taiwanese have turned the moon festival into a barbecue day. Taiwanese will barbecue in front of their homes or businesses, at a public park, or at the beach during this moon festival period. It is common to see people barbecuing for lunch, dinner, or late into the night. Usually, friends, family, and co-workers are welcome to stop by and attend. In larger cities like Taipei, the city government has established public barbecue areas to control where people barbecue. In addition, firecrackers and fireworks are set off during the evening, though it’s illegal to use fireworks in city limits.