Center: El Gato Celebrates the Mid-Autumn Festival

Learn about the Mid-Autumn Festival’s food, stories, and traditions!


By: Michaela Thimot (People Editor)

Signifying and celebrating the end of the autumn harvest, the Mid-Autumn Festival took place on the night of the harvest moon, just as it has for over 3,000 years. The festival’s origins trace back to around 1,000 BC during the reign of the Zhou Dynasty. Ancient Chinese emperors offered sacrifices to the moon and worshiped it in hopes of bringing a successful harvest the following year. This tradition eventually spread from the emperors to their people, solidifying the tradition in Chinese culture. First appearing as a festival during the Song dynasty, the celebration is now one of China’s most important festivals. Today, instead of making sacrifices, people gather together to eat mooncakes, drink cassia wine, and watch the moon.  (Sources: SF Chronicle, China Highlights)


By: Kate Gruetter (National/World Editor)

A staple of the Mid-Autumn festival is the mooncake, which can be made at home, found at any Asian grocery store, or even bought at Costco. A mooncake is a round pastry item filled with red bean or lotus seed paste, as well as salted duck yolks. These items are often decorated with a flower or geometric design imprint, and their round shape complements the Mid-Autumn Festival’s Harvest Moon. People enjoy them with tea, and the cakes are unique because of their rich taste and caloric density. 

Those who celebrate also eat duck, mostly in duck and taro soup, which nourishes the body in preparation for the dry autumn months. Pomelos, buffalo nuts, and edamame are also staples. Whether you’re attending a Mid-Autumn Festival or celebrating at home, make sure you honor the Mid-Autumn Festival’s culture with some of these treats. (Sources: The Woks of Life)


By: Georgia Kaufman (Opinion Editor)

The Mid-Autumn Festival is a holiday celebrated by Southeast Asian cultures with many traditions surrounding the greatness of the moon and the bounty of the autumn harvest. From eating mooncakes — a tradition that represents completeness and reunion —  to creating and releasing lanterns into the sky — representing a path to good fortune — people have celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival for over three thousand years. Celebrations also include burning pagodas (similar to a bonfire), watching dragon dances to welcome health and good luck, and releasing any old tensions with new, happy intentions.


By: Linda Wang (Humor Editor)

Legend says that there were ten suns in the sky who wreaked havoc with drought. To save the people, the skilled archer Hou Yi shot down nine of the ten suns. In thanks, the king bestowed on Hou Yi an elixir of eternal life and an ascension to heaven. Hou Yi could not bear to drink it because he wanted to stay on Earth with his wife, Chang’e. Years later, an evil student of Hou Yi tried to steal this elixir. In a panic, Chang’e, the only person at home, hurriedly swallowed it. She floated to the moon, where she could still glimpse Hou Yi during the night. During nights of the full moon, such as the Mid-Autumn Festival, you can see Chang’e and her pet, the Jade Rabbit.

By: Georgia Kaufman (Opinion Editor)

The story of the jade rabbit revolves around three immortals who turned themselves into beggars to explore the ingenuity of three animals: a fox, a monkey, and a rabbit. The three beggars asked for food from each animal, and both the fox and monkey gave the beggars food; however, the rabbit did not have any food so it sacrificed itself in order to feed them. The immortals then sent the rabbit to the moon to thank it and to accompany Chang’e to give medicine to those living in heaven. The legend symbolizes selflessness and sacrifice — something present in the Mid-Autumn celebration — giving those on Earth the honor of goodness and respectability.

Local Celebrations:

By: Bridie Beamish (Culture Editor)

Though a festival traditionally celebrated in East Asia, here’s how the Bay Area celebrates the Mid-Autumn Festival. The GreatStar Theatre in San Francisco’s Chinatown put on a spectacular cabaret full of dancers and other performers from Sept. 2 to Sept. 11. In San Jose, the city celebrated with its Moon Fest Night Market on Sept. 16 –– an event showcasing local entertainers, musicians, artists, and food trucks. However, it’s not too late to join the festivities, as there will be a Mid-Autumn pop-up at Viridian in Oakland, featuring specialized art, cocktails, dishes, and desserts until Sept. 30. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for these festive events through September! (Source: AllEvents)

Categories: Center

Leave a Reply