To the Moon and Back: Hong Kong Celebrates Mid-Autumn Festival

The Mid-Autumn Festival is the second biggest traditional Chinese holiday after the Chinese New Year.

After more than 18 months of gloom brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s Mid-Autumn Festival is lighting up Hong Kong. Illuminated installations springing up all around town.

Held on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month in the Chinese calendar, the 2021 Hong Kong Mid-Autumn Festival is on 21 September with a public holiday on 22 September. The festival historically marks and celebrates the end of the autumn period of harvesting crops. During this thanksgiving celebration, families would traditionally gather to eat mooncakes and admire the full moon.

On this full moon day, families and communities traditionally gathered to celebrate the bountiful harvesting season, somewhat of the equivalent to American Thanksgiving Day.

The festival runs for a week and, during that time, Hong Kong is transformed into a show of sound, color, and light. Lanterns are everywhere, from ancient style, modern and paper, and children are captivated by the fun lanterns they are given.


Although the true origin of the Mid-Autumn Festival is not known for certain, history records show that moon-worshipping practices began over 3,000 years ago in the Shang Dynasty. But the festival only became an official celebration in China during the Tang Dynasty when ancient emperors of China would host a feast to make offerings to deities and the moon in celebration of the year’s harvest.  Over time, it evolved into a festival of many traditions: to give thanks to the moon, pray for better luck, fortune and fertility, and reunite with the family to celebrate and admire the moon in its full glory.

In Hong Kong, festivities include lantern displays, carnivals, and performances. The Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance is over 140 years old, dating back to 1880 when Tai Hang villagers performed the ritual to ward off a plague.

People line the streets to watch the free public spectacle as the long fire dragon is carried aloft by about 300 volunteers. It is about 70 meters long and is composed of 32 connected sections.

Does the Moon Look Biggest at Mid-Autumn Festival? 

In China, the expression that “the moon is extraordinarily full during the Mid-Autumn Festival” has been passed on from generation to generation. Chinese people fancifully imagine the moon of the Mid-Autumn Festival is extraordinarily bright, bigger, and fuller.

In some years, the full moon is on the festival day, while in other years, the full moon occurs the day after the festival. This doesn’t affect Chinese people’s enjoyment of the moon on the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival though.

Related Articles

Back to top button