As autumn leaves begin to fall and a cool breeze whispers through the trees, many parts of the world prepare to welcome the season of harvest. However, it’s east Asia that offers the most enchanting celebration of all — the Mid-Autumn Festival. Celebrated across the region from China and Japan to South Korea and Vietnam, the festival is all about rich traditions, mouthwatering food, beautiful art, and community spirit. Here’s 7 reasons why the Mid-Autumn Festival makes east Asia the ultimate destination for celebrating fall.
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1. Ancient traditions
The Mid-Autumn Festival has its roots in ancient agricultural societies, who celebrated the harvest during the fullest moon of autumn. In China, it’s believed the festival (known as Zhongqiujie) dates back over 3,000 years to the Shang Dynasty, where people worshipped the moon goddess for a bountiful harvest. In Korea, the holiday is called Chuseok and is considered a sort of “Korean Thanksgiving,” focused on the harvest and traditions like tug of war games.
Vietnam hosts an autumn festival known as the “Children’s Festival”, and you’ll see lots of colorful parades with lanterns, music and singing. Similarly, in Japan, the tradition of “Tsukimi” or “moon-viewing” has been celebrated for centuries, with traditions offering seasonal produce to the moon. Many people travel long distances to reunite with friends and family members and host moon-viewing parties where everyone gathers to admire the moon’s beauty. These celebrations usually include delicious food, glowing lanterns, tea ceremonies, or even poetry readings dedicated to the moon.
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2. Beautiful fall foliage
The landscapes of east Asia offer some of the most breathtaking autumn foliage in the world. Whether you’re walking through Kyoto’s historic temples, or cruising the Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay or China’s Yangtze River, the spectacle of red and gold leaves is truly mesmerizing. It all looks as if it were plucked right out of a painting!
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3. Culinary delights
We all love to celebrate fall with some good food and the Mid-Autumn Festival is famed for its culinary traditions. In China and Vietnam, mooncakes are the classic food. These dense pastries have fillings like red bean paste, lotus seed paste, and salted egg yolk, and usually have elaborate designs on the surface.
In Korea, you’ll find rice cakes known as “songpyeon”. They feature a soft outer layer made of glutinous rice and fillings like sweet sesame seeds, red beans, or chestnuts. In Japan, Tsukimi dango (round rice dumplings) are displayed as an offering to the moon. You can also find delicious foods like roasted chestnuts, sashimi, matsutake mushrooms, persimmons and freshly harvested rice all during fall.
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4. Tea culture
If you love a cup of tea, you’ll fit right in during fall in east Asia. The cooler weather and fresh harvests make it one of the best seasons to enjoy traditional teas. Whether it’s Japanese matcha or Chinese oolong, the cooler temperatures are perfect for the soothing qualities of these traditional drinks. Many places also offer tea ceremonies or tea-tasting experiences, often surrounded by beautiful autumn leaves.
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5. Decorated streets
If you love photography or simply enjoy wandering down a pretty street, you’ll want to celebrate fall in east Asia. From the glowing lanterns that adorn streets in China to the harvest decorations in Korea and Japan, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a visual feast. Public spaces and homes are often transformed into artistic landscapes paying tribute to the moon, fall foliage, and traditional folklore.
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6. Traditional arts
Whether it’s moon-viewing ceremonies in Japan, calligraphy in China, or hanbok-wearing in Korea, the fall season is the perfect time to learn more about traditional east Asian arts and crafts. You can even join workshops to make your own lanterns for the Mid-Autumn Festival.
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7. Hot springs and rejuvenation
For many people across east Asia, autumn marks the end of the busy, hot summer and the start of the cooler, quieter season. It’s a time to begin to unwind and reflect, and the region’s many hot springs are the perfect place to rejuvenate while enjoying the fall scenery. Known as onsen in Japan and jjimjilbang in South Korea, these natural hot springs are filled with soothing, mineral-rich water stemming from the lush volcanic landscapes.
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What are your favorite places to celebrate fall? Let us know in the comments below!