What You Need to Know About the Mid-Autumn Festival in South East Asia
The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival or the Harvest Moon Festival, is a big deal in South East Asia.
It’s a cultural event to celebrate plentiful rain, a bountiful harvest of crops, and a union of friends and family. These days it’s treated more like Christmas – people travel from all over to get together with loved ones, dress in their nicest clothes, observe certain rituals and feast on good food.
Notably observed in China and Vietnam, it’s held on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar (under a full moon), corresponding to late September to early October of the Gregorian calendar.
There is however an ethereal aspect to it as moon worship is an important component to the festival. Prayers, offerings and requests are made to the moon in hopes of wealth, health, love fertility, or general happiness and well-being.
There’s a deep lore to this, as well as variations to the belief, mostly revolving around the moon. Some say the moon directly influences our lives, while others speak of a deity. There are a handful of famous myths, and probably a lot more obscure ones. Whatever it may be, it is ultimately a time of fostering relationships and reunions.
And food! Don’t forget food.
The Sought-After Pastry
As one of Asia’s more prominent festivities, the one thing that ties it all together is the famous mooncake. So famous in fact, that a lot of people have simply taken to calling the festival as the Mooncake Festival (true story!). It’s essentially a thick round pastry, filled with a dense paste made from usually red bean or lotus seed. It’s eaten like a little pie and it is super yummy.
But it can get real expensive too. Part of the entire mooncake experience is the gifting, which is a major part of the festival. The pastry itself is cheap to make, but peak season demand and super premium packaging + marketing pushes prices up.
Mooncakes are exchanged between relatives, friends and business clients.
The Modern Practices
Mooncake gifting is an important part of it all. Not only is it expected, it can get reasonably competitive too, especially when you want to stand out from the crowd. Yes – it really is a big deal. It’s common for countries celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival to have it as a public holiday. Stores would have their sales and promotions, traffic would increase and decrease in different places, and most government offices, banks, and the private sectors would be closed for at least a couple days.
The festival however has changed a little throughout the years, evolving and adapting to different countries and cultures. Lanterns are prominent, but it takes on different forms from place to place. There are Dragon Dances too, also known as a Lion Dance in some places. There’re also the parades, lantern fairs, dragon boat racing, and full moon gatherings to name a few.
These practices are not only shared commercially, but also through tradition as a way to maintain the distinction.
The Striking Traditions
ASW has offices operating in Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines. The Mid-Autumn festival has brought about some pretty interesting trivia from each country.
The Philippines for example has a popular game, particularly among its Chinese residents. The game uses six dices and a bowl to determine a range of combinations and is often used to win (surprise surprise) more mooncake.
Vietnam can boast of Trong Quan, a practice in the northern regions where the men and women would sing to each other from a selection of traditional poems. One would recite a sentence, and the other would try to continue it, all the while flirting a little.
Malaysia is a bit more conventional with the original traditions brought in from Chinese and Vietnamese migrants. Lanterns of various shapes and sizes would grace streets and households, with kids enjoying the best of it with everything from animal shapes to cartoon characters.
The Celebrated Culture
ASW fully embraces the richness and diversity our talents bring with them. As an integrated remote staffing company, we understand that embracing culture and heritage is important. The cultures it represents adds diversity to our everyday life, which is inherently good for the people, the company and the clients.
We are fully invested and equipped to help you take your company to the next level. By employing the best talents, along with everything else they have to offer, we build and offer continuous value. Whether you want to start understanding what our services are like, fully prepared to go with a full-function team, or even anything in between – don’t hesitate to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation.