Come celebrate the traditions and culture of the Mid-Autumn Festival all over Hong Kong
Whether you’re a born-and-raised Hong Kong kid, or a newbie to this bustling city, Mid-Autumn Festival is a great holiday to celebrate with the family! We’ve got the lowdown on the history, the festivities, and the food. Plus, a couple of ideas for fun things you can do over the long weekend, from indulging in mooncakes (keep an eye out for our mooncakes and hampers guide next week) to checking our the famous Lantern Carnival with the whole gang, here’s our 2017 Mid-Autumn Festival Guide for families in Hong Kong…
The History of the Mid-Autumn Festival…
Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the most colourful and quaint events in Hong Kong, lighting up our city with bright lanterns, light shows and fiery dragon dances.
Traditionally celebrated as a Harvest Festival, this a long-held tradition dates back to the Tang dynasty (from around 600AD), and was traditionally a harvest festival. This occasion shared a dual function, as it meant that many family members working away from home had a chance to return home to their extended family for the holiday. At the time, people would gather to make offerings of food and drink to the moon Goddess, Chang’e, paying their respect, and giving thanks for the crops harvested during the year. Legend has it that Chang’e blesses her worshippers with beauty, so people lit lanterns in her honour (and to make sure that she could see them clearly from the sky).
Mid-Autumn Festival is all about light, so a household really wouldn’t be complete without a fabulous lantern to guide the way. Historically, the lanterns were made from paper and lit with candles but nowadays they tend to be plastic, battery operated (safety first right, mamas?) and come in every shape and cartoon character you can think of. Beware that some come with electronic tunes that play non-stop!
The holiday is a time to be grateful for what you have, your relationships and your fortunes. A refreshing, feel-good holiday – our favourite type.
The Family Friendly Activities in store…
Throughout Hong Kong, you’ll find lanterns strung about ready to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival. As you may or may not know, Hong Kong is never one to shy away from celebrating local customs on a grand scale. There are several ways you can bring your family out to join in the revelry of this festival. Here are a few places to check out…
The Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance
Touted as one of they most important events to check out over the holiday, this a definite one to cross off your check list for Mid-Autumn events around the city. The Fire Dragon Dance can be watched all over the city, but the one that draws the large crowds for it’s liveliness, origin and reputation is found in the heart of Tai Hang village.
This traditional dance dates back to the 19th century when the villagers of Tai Hang village were dealing with catastrophe after catastrophe. From a raging typhoon, to an awful plague, to an alleged python eating their livestock… the Tai Hang villagers simply just couldn’t get a break. To break the cycle of bad luck, a soothsayer said they needed to perform a fire dance for three days and three nights during the Mid-Autumn festival. So the villagers created a large dragon made out of straw and then covered it with incense to ward off the evil spirits. Along with loud fire crackers and drummers, the villagers danced for three days and truth be told, the plague ceased.
To this day, you can catch this fiery and smokey performance every year in the back streets of Tai Hang village. We’re talking about 300 performers, 7,000 incense sticks and a 67 metre long dragon that will leave you in a wide-eyed trance! If your little one is not a fan of loud noises and the smoke, we would recommend you standing further away from Wun Sha Street. You can still see the wonderful spectacle but at a safe distance.
When: Tuesday 3, Wednesday 4, Friday 5 October 2017
Time: From 8:15pm in Tai Hang, Causeway Bay along Lily Street, Ormsby Street to Tung Lo Wan Road. You get a fab view from Wun Sha Street!
Where: Wun Sha Street, Tai Hang, Causeway Bay
How much: Free entry
Mid-Autumn Lantern Carnival
If you’ve never walked through a Mid-Autumn Lantern Carnival in your life, you’re in for a real treat! The 852 pulls out all the stops when it comes to the intricately decorated and beautifully designed lanterns that are on for display across various neighbourhoods all over the city. Besides the brightly lit lanterns, there are usually game stalls, palm reading and even traditional shows put on stage. This is truly the quintessential family activity to do over the holiday. Don’t forget your cameras and better yet, buy your kiddos their own lanterns at the stalls (which come in all shapes and sizes including their favourite Disney character too!) to add to the fun.
The largest and most popular carnival is found in Victoria Park in Causeway Bay.
When: Wednesday, 4 October, 2017
Where: Victoria Park, Causeway Bay
How much: Free entry
Mid-Autumn Lantern Display
Be prepared for a thematic grand display of lanterns that will make your long weekend a magical one with the littles. Trust us, your kiddos won’t be the only ones ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the beautiful displays!
When: End September – Mid October (exact dates to be announced)
Where: Outside the Hong Kong Space Museum, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
How much: Free entry
The Lowdown on the Mooncake…
You either love ’em or could do without ’em. Regardless, the entire Mid-Autumn festival revolves around having a sliver (or a quarter!) of this seasonal treat. Celebrated as a thanksgiving for the harvest, the main symbol of this season is the full moon represented in a mooncake. It is said that in the Yuan dynasty, mooncakes were used as a means to pass secret messages between revolutionaries. Well, many centuries later, the mooncake has evolved into an assortment of different tastes. Typically shared between the entire family after a special dinner gathering, the cakes are traditionally filled with a smooth but dense lotus seed paste encasing an entire egg yolk at the centre. An acquired taste for some, but once appreciated, you’ll be wondering what you ever did without one!
But not to fret mama, if you’re not a fan of the traditional mooncake as there are many different variations nowadays to suit the changing palettes of Hong Kongers. From decadent pure chocolate and praline ones to custard filled to the mochi and ice cream variety. You’re bound to find one you’ll like to share with the family and friends this holiday. Stay tuned for our favourite Mooncake and Mid-Autumn Hampers picks coming up next week…
Happy Mid-Autumn Festival, mamas!