happiness and future in their children, as the man of the house might not return from his fishing trip.
Preparing sweet snacks with some local specialties, offered first as oblation to Zhi Nv, has become a custom, as the local residents believe desserts are the goddess’ favorite food.
Yet with the passage of time, particularly because women have become increasingly independent, socially, professionally and financially, the festival has lost much of its traditional color. It has basically evolved into a day for lovers to pour out their hearts to each other, and go shopping. Tomb Sweeping Day and Chongyang Festival.
People pay tributes to their late family members and ancestors on the day, and seek their blessings for a good harvest. They also set off floating lanterns in rivers to help the dead find their way back home. Newly harvested food grains, called “autumn taste” are offered as oblations, to the ancestors. And many people burn paper oblations as, according to Taoism, the dead can receive the offerings that are burned in “this world” because on this day, the King of Hell sets them free to meet their offspring and family members.
However, during a campaign aimed at modernizing social traditions in the 1950s, the authorities criticized the festival for its “superstitious” nature. The festival lost its appeal in the years that followed until 2010 when the government recognized it as a national intangible cultural heritage.
Mid-Autumn Day, which falls on Sept 24 this year, is observed on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar.
The festival dates back to the early Tang Dynasty (618-907), and gained prominence during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). By the time the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) came to power, it had become an important traditional festival — second only to Spring Festival.
The State Council, China’s Cabinet, listed Mid-Autumn Day in the first batch of national intangible cultural heritages in 2006, and declared it a national statutory holiday in 2008.
The day is also celebrated by people in some parts of East and Southeast Asia, and Chinese communities around the world.
There are two stories about the festival’s origin. Some people say it has its origin in the ancient emperors’