In China and throughout many Asian countries people celebrate the Harvest Moon on the 15th day of the eighth month of their lunar calendar. The date in the Western calendar changes annually. This year, the Chinese moon cake festival falls on Wednesday, September 22, 2010.
The Harvest Moon or Mid-Autumn Festival (Zhong Qiu Jie) is a day of family reunions much like a Western Thanksgiving. Chinese people believe that on that day, the moon is the roundest and brightest signaling a time of completeness and abundance. During the Mooncake Festival, children are delighted to stay up past midnight, parading multi-colored lanterns into the wee hours as families take to the streets to moon-gaze.
It is also a romantic night for lovers, who sit holding hands on hilltops, riverbanks and park benches, captivated by the brightest moon of the year!
The festival dates back to the Tang dynasty in 618 A.D., and as with many celebrations in China there are ancient legends closely associated with it.
In Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore, it's sometimes referred to as the Lantern Festival, (not to be confused with a similar celebration during the Chinese New Year), but whatever name it goes by, the centuries-old festival remains a beloved annual ritual celebrating an abundance of food and family.