The festival itself is held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar. Various traditions surround the festival including one of giving thanks to a bountiful harvest.
The festival is also a chance for families and friends to gather, drink tea, eat food and of course indulge in the eating of mooncake.
Mooncakes are regarded as an indispensable part of the Mid-Autumn Festival celebration which is one of the four most important Chinese festivals [The others being the Spring Festival, Dragon Boat Festival and Lantern Festival].
The cakes consist of a pastry case with a filling of such as red bean paste, nuts or even meat. Traditional varieties often have a lotus seed paste filling with a duck egg yolk placed in the centre to symbolise the moon.
Aside of the consumption of cake people will often take to lantern festooned streets to watch lion or dragon dances, though such festivities are mainly practiced in southern China.
In some parts of China, dances are held for young men and women to find partners. Young women may be encouraged to throw a handkerchief into a crowd. The young man who catches and returns the handkerchief is said to have a chance at romance.
Historically the festival is inextricably linked to the legends of Chang E, the mythical Moon Goddess of Immortality. According to "Li-Ji", an ancient Chinese book recording customs and ceremonies, the Chinese Emperor should offer sacrifices to the sun in spring and the moon in autumn.
Practices described above, as well as the history associated with the festival, are slowly being forgotten in modern China.
Indeed just like Christmas in the West, the Mid-Autumn festival is becoming more a commercial enterprise to sell as many mooncakes as possible. Though, for mooncake lovers there’s little to complain about.