The annual Asian harvest festival will be kicking off around the world on Friday night
On the 15th day of the eighth month every year, as prescribed by the Lunar calendar, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese people observe a three-day national holiday commonly referred to as “Chinese Thanksgiving”—and it’s finally here! Also called the Moon Festival, as this time of year is when the moon is traditionally thought to be at its fullest, Chinese Thanksgiving is China’s second most important holiday after Chinese New Year, and will be observed from Sept. 13 to 15.
Let’s check out how these three countries celebrate Chinese Thanksgiving!
Sometimes called the Mid-Autumn Festival, on this day, families and friends gather together in the evening to enjoy the moonlight from parks, gardens and homes. Some even climb hills or mountains to get the best view of the moon. Throughout this particular holiday, Chinese people tend to eat lots of round foods, the most popular being mooncake, a type of a cookie with various fillings such as lotus seed paste or red bean paste. Mooncakes are decorated with artistic patterns on the surface of the cookie depicting legends of the festival or Chinese characters.
Koreans celebrate Chinese Thanksgiving—known to them as Chu-Sok—by visiting their familial ancestors’ tombs or returning to their ancestral hometowns. Another tradition is gift-giving among their relatives, friends, and business acquaintances. To celebrate, Koreans play traditional games and eat rice cakes called song-pyon, which are made in the shape of a half moon with bean paste or other sweet fillings inside.
The Vietnamese version of Chinese Thanksgiving is called Tet Trung Thu, but it’s also considered as another Children’s Day, which Vietnam officially observes on June 1 annually. It’s sort of a combination of Halloween and Thanksgiving, as kids play many traditional games, partake in lantern marching and perform lion dances in the streets, while their family members shower them with new clothes and gifts. The culinary highlight is baked and sticky rice mooncake along with other round foods like banh bao, a Vietnamese bun that contains pork or chicken inside.
Looking for a quick grab? Visit Hong Kong Island Bakery at 336 Spadina Ave. in Chinatown for one of the best mooncakes in Toronto for under $7. If you are looking for a special experience, consider hiring a team of professional dancers and musicians from Toronto Lion Dance to perform a special lion dance especially for you. You can request a quote from their website.
If you want to check out authentic selection of East Asian groceries, as well as specially baked and steamed mooncakes and song-pyon for the holiday, go to large Asian supermarkets such as T&T at 222 Cherry St. or PAT Central at 675 Bloor St. W. in Koreatown. They are currently doing many special events such as “Dollar Event” and sale for rice cakes and the like over the weekend, so don’t miss it!
The Ryersonian would like to wish a happy Chinese Thanksgiving to the Ryerson community, especially to our Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese students who will be celebrating.