Marking the end of the autumn harvest, the Mid-Autumn Festival was traditionally a time to give thanks to the gods.
It is also a time of year that the moon is at its brightest, which is why lunar legends have always been attached to the celebration. Notably, the story of Chang E, the wife of a merciless king who downed the elixir of immortality he had intended to drink, to save her people from his tyrannical rule.
The tale goes that she ascended to the moon after that, and has been worshipped by the Chinese as a Moon Goddess ever since.
Since the Mid-Autumn Festival is about lunar appreciation, celebrations go into full swing once the sun goes down.
Moon-viewing parties are a popular way to enjoy the occasion, as family and friends sit in gardens lit by the soft glow of paper lanterns, sip tea, nibble on mooncakes, and if so inspired, compose poetry in venerable Tang Dynasty fashion.
Children love this festival because they get to tote lanterns.
The traditional opt for those lighted by wax candles—elegant paper versions or more elaborate multi-hued cellophane and wire structures shaped into everything from cars to cartoon characters.
There are also unfortunately, plastic battery-operated music-emitting versions—but to each his own.
You’ll get to examine the real thing up close at some of the celebrations around the island, particularly in Chinatown where large beautiful lanterns will be on display—marvels of creativity, artistry and traditional craftsmanship. You’ll also get to sample mooncakes and fine teas at the street bazaars, watch nightly performances and peek at lantern-painting competitions.