Mid-Autumn Festival

Mid-Autumn Festivals

In the US, in China and throughout many Asian countries people celebrate the Harvest Moon. In 2023, the Mid-Autumn festival falls on Friday, September 29. Similar harvest festivals with their own unique traditions also occur during the same time - in Korea during the three-day Chuseok festival and in Vietnam during Tet Trung Thu.

Chinese Tradition


Moon Festival- September 29, 2023

In Chinese communities the mid-Autumn Festival is also known as the Moon Festival, the night of the full moon signals a time of completeness and abundance. In the Chinese mainland, the festival falls on September 29th, which is adjacent to China's National Day on October 1st. An 8-day public holiday is enjoyed from September 29th to October 6th. Different countries/regions have different holiday times for this festival.

Throughout the Mid-Autumn Festival, children are delighted to stay up past midnight, parading multi-colored lanterns 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. Chinese families celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival by going to family gatherings, having mooncakes, making tong yuen, playing with lanterns, and gazing at the moon.

Moon cakes remain one of the oldest traditional ways to celebrate the festival. Making and sharing mooncakes is one of the hallmark traditions of this festival. In Chinese culture, a round shape symbolizes completeness and reunion. Sharing and eating of round mooncakes among family members during the week of the festival signifies the completeness and unity of families. Other traditional foods for a Chinese Mid-Autumn feast are red — for good luck. Lobster and salmon are particular favorites along with apples, pomegranates, and roasted chestnuts. Since it is a harvest festival, there is also an abundance of fresh harvest vegetables available at markets such as pumpkins, squash, and grapes.

Additional Resources

All you need to know about the Mid-Autumn Festival

12 Traditional Mid-Autumn Festival Foods

Children’s Books about the MId-Autumn Festival

Grace Lin reads Thanking the Moon

Vietnamese Tradition

Mid-Autumn Festival- Tet Trung Thu- September 29, 2023

Tet Trung Thu is the second most important festival in Vietnam after Tet, the Vietnamese New Year.  Locals celebrate the festival to give thanks to the moon for their successful harvest season. The full moon represents prosperity and a full life, and the locals gather beneath it to join in the celebrations together. 

All across Vietnam, families welcome Tết Trung Thu by placing a five-fruit tray and cakes on our ancestral altar. They offer the food to their ancestors and worship, before feasting on mooncakes -- usually outside under the light of the moon. Round or square, these cakes are molded with elaborate details of flowers, carp and geometric patterns.

Additional Resources

Vietnam’s Magical Mid-Autumn Festival
7 Children’s Books about TET TRUNG THU

Korean Tradition

Mid-Autumn Festival-Chuseok  (추석)

2023 begins on Thursday, September 28th, and ends on Saturday, September 30th.

Chuseok, sometimes called the Korean Thanksgiving, is one of the biggest holidays in South Korea. It’s a time when families go back to their hometowns  and gather to give thanks to their ancestors for an abundant autumn harvest.

According to legend, an ancient king of the kingdom, Silla, started a month-long weaving contest between two teams.   The team who had woven the most cloth won, and they were treated by the losing team with food, drinks, and other gifts.  Thus starting the tradition of Thanksgiving almost 2000 years ago.

Food plays an integral role in Chuseok. A few of the traditional foods are:

  • Songpyeon, a traditional Korean rice cake prepared with rice powder, filled with sesame seeds, red beans, other beans, and chestnuts.

  • Japchae, a noodle dish  stir-fried in sesame oil with mushrooms, onion, carrot, spinach, etc. Beef is also sometimes added to the dish.

  • Jeon, traditional Korean pancake made using fish, sweet potato, zucchini, and other ingredients coated with egg and/or flour and then pan-fried.

  • Galbijjim, a braised beef dish made with short ribs and mixed with vegetables.

Gift giving is another important Chuseok tradition. Gifts are given to hosts when visiting their home and also to partners or seniors of the company they’re working for as a goodwill gesture. Since this is a family holiday, gifts, such as food,  are often given so the entire family can enjoy it. Spam is one of the most popular food gifts given while fruit and meat baskets are also common gifts.

Additional Resources

Everything You Want to Know about Chuseok

Chuseok 2023

Korean Chuseok 2023- A Guide to Celebrating