10 things you must have done if you celebrated Mid-Autumn Festival

  1. 1. You heard that there once were 10 suns

This begins the legend of why Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated. The legend goes (as told by a fellow HKUST student) that 9 of the 10 suns were shot down by a super-strong archer. For his feats, the archer was given two pills that could make him immortal. Somehow, his wife got a hold of them and ate them both. The effect was so strong from the two pills that she flew like a rocketship to the moon. She is still there, and that is why the Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated.

  1. 2. You spent quality time with friends and family

I was lucky enough to go to a local student’s family’s home to have dinner with them and a couple other international students. Then we hung out with a bunch of other local friends later in the evening. Mid-Autumn Festival is always about being with the people that you care about.

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  1. 3. You ate traditional Chinese food

On the menu for me were a couple kinds of dumplings, fish, bacon-like pork, meat and vegetables wrapped in meat, shrimp, and more. A truly fabulous meal.

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4. You went to a park

Families, children and friends gather in large public parks in the afternoon and evening to celebrate. Many have light displays and traditional music and dance performances.

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5. You saw pretty lanterns

Lanterns are a true symbol of the festival.

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6. You light your own pretty lanterns

lantern + candle + fire = beauty

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7. You ate a traditional mooncake

The traditional mooncake is a special pastry made of lotus seed or red bean paste. Mooncakes are quite sugary and dense, so they are usually cut and shared among friends.

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8. You ate a snowy mooncake

A Hong Kong special! One bakery in Hong Kong started making a cold version of the mooncake (hence their “snowy” description) and Hong Kongers fell in love. With a more rubbery, fondant-like outside than its more cookie-like predecessor, the snowy mooncake has now been copied by bakeries all over town. My favorite flavors were mango and green tea.

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9. You learned why mooncake is eaten for mid-Autumn festival

Many moons ago, the Han Chinese people wanted to start a revolution against the ruling Mongols but didn’t have Facebook messaging or Morse code to relay the message. So they turned to hiding messages in mooncakes about the planned revolution which was to take place on the date of the Mid-Autumn Festival.

10. You saw a full moon

Seeing the full moon clearly on Mid-Autumn Festival’s night is like having snow on Christmas: it just makes the holiday feel more special. Despite forecasts of severe typhoons that threatened to cancel classes and shut the city down, the night ended up being perfectly clear for my first mid-Autumn Festival. And for that, all the Hong Kongers and I were grateful.