Mid-Autumn Festival Activities

toddler girl wearing pomelo hat for mid-autum festival

The second biggest holiday for Chinese language learners in the U.S. is the Mid-Autumn Festival. Growing up in Hawaii, we did not celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, but I do remember my mom bringing home mooncakes, always with red bean filling and egg yolk. I didn’t like them as a child, but now I eat a bite or two out of nostalgia. My kids have eaten mooncakes every year since they could eat solids and I am trying my best to learn more about the Mid-Autumn festival so that we can celebrate together and recapture our Taiwanese heritage. This post is a compilation of Mid-Autumn Festival activities that your family will enjoy, no matter where you are.

What is the Mid-Autumn Festival?

The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is celebrated in Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau, Malaysia, Vietnam, Korea, Japan, Thailand, and other countries with significant Chinese communities. In Mandarin Chinese, the holiday is known as 中秋節 (Pinyin: Zhōngqiū jié)

The Mid-Autumn Festival dates back to ancient times when people gave thanks for the harvest and prayed for a bountiful harvest in the coming year. As with most Asian holidays, folklore plays a significant part in the origin of this holiday. The story of 嫦娥 (pinyin: Cháng’é) is an integral part of Mid-Autumn Festival for children.

When is the Mid-Autumn Festival?

Each year, the festival begins on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar. Here are the dates for upcoming festivals

  • 2023: September 29
  • 2024: September 17
  • 2025: October 6
  • 2026: September 25
  • 2027: September 15

Mid-Autumn Festival Phrases for Kids

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival
Traditional Chinese: 中秋節快樂

Do you like to eat mooncakes?
Traditional Chinese:
 你喜歡吃月餅嗎?

The lantern you made is beautiful
Traditional Chinese:
你做的燈籠很好看

Do you want to hear the legend of Cháng’é
Traditional Chinese:
你想听嫦娥的故事嗎?

Mid-Autumn Festival Activities

The Mid-Autumn festival is a time for reunion. In Taiwan, many families and friends will gather for a barbeque under the moonlight. Let’s be honest, it’s another reason to feast! Like us, you may be far from your family but can still celebrate with your children by teaching them about the Mid-Autumn festival by reading books, watching Over The Moon on Netflix, eating traditional foods, making a lantern, playing games, and wearing traditional Chinese clothing.

If karaoke is part of your festive plans, a simple song for Mandarin language learners and one that I adore is “The Moon Represents My Heart 月亮代表我的心” by Teresa Teng. This song makes me recall fuzzy memories from my childhood when my relatives would sing these old-timey songs after a long family dinner.

Here are the lyrics in Traditional Chinese, Pinyin, along with English translations.

Books about the Mid-Autumn Festival

There’s more to the moon festival than mooncakes! Learn about the history, traditions, and legends from this list of children’s books in English and Chinese.

Image credit: Bitty Bao

Bitty Bao Mid-Autumn Holiday Book Bundle

Author: Lacey Benard and Lulu Cheng
Language: Simplified Chinese characters and Traditional Chinese characters in Mandarin and Cantonese editions

These board books for your littlest ones will introduce traditions of the Mid-Autumn Festival, mooncakes, and astronomy in English and Chinese.

Order from the Bitty Bao website

Image Credit: Yobe Qiu

Our Moon Festival

Author: Yobe Qiu
Language: English

This children’s picture book, Our Moon Festival by Yobe Qiu, beautifully illustrates the unique ways that different cultures celebrate the moon festival.

Order from Amazon

幸福月餅店 Happy Mooncake Shop

Author: 鄭宗弦
Language: Traditional Chinese with Zhuyin

In 幸福月餅店, the protagonist helps his family in their traditional pastry shop. It’s a busy season as they prepare for the upcoming holiday. For nostalgic parents, each scene paints a picture of Taiwan’s bygone era.

Order from Yo!Baby, Mr. and Mrs. Books, and Gloria’s Bookstore

Image credit: Eugenia Chu

Celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival

Author: Eugenia Chu
Language: English

Learn about the Mid-Autumn Festival and traditions in Eugenia Chu’s latest book which includes activities for children to enjoy.

Order from Amazon

小星的大月餅 (A Big Mooncake for Little Star)

Author: Grace Lin
Language: Traditional Chinese with Zhuyin

The author cleverly incorporates the moon phases in A big mooncake for Little Star. Nibble by nibble, Little Star couldn’t help but eat the mooncake that her mom had made. They will just have to make more together!

Order from Yo!Baby and Mr. and Mrs. BooksGloria’s Bookstore

中秋節 (Mid-Autumn Festival)

Author: 艾德娜
Language: Traditional Chinese with Zhuyin

This book introduces the origin of the Mid-Autumn Festival and the evolution of customs, and also how children in Japan and Vietnam celebrate the Moon Festival, which can broaden children’s horizons and understand the background of multiculturalism.

Order from Yo!Baby

Mooncake Recipes and Mid-Autumn Festival Foods

Celebrate with traditional foods such as duck and crab, or BBQ Taiwanese style. Gather everyone around a small hibachi and grill your fall favorites like sweet potato, corn, seafood, and meats.

Not a fan of mooncake? No problem! These days, there are many types of mooncakes to choose from. You can even order mooncakes online from Weee! ($20 off with this link) or make your own with the recipes below.

Traditional Mooncake Recipe (Cantonese style)

When it comes to mooncakes, people are most familiar with the Cantonese style with salted egg yolk and red bean or lotus paste. These moon cakes are made with a decorative mold that produces an ornate pattern.

Make this recipe from Smelly Lunch Box

Snow Skin Mooncake Recipe (no-bake!)

A quick search on Google Trends shows that snow skin mooncakes gained peak popularity in 2018. In Chinese, they are called 冰皮月餅/冰皮月饼 (pinyin: Bīng pí yuèbǐng) and possibly originated from Hong Kong or Singapore. They are a great alternative for people like me who are not big fans of traditional mooncakes and also love mochi. Plus, snow skin mooncakes are almost too pretty to eat.

Make this recipe from Takes Two Eggs

Image credit: Laura’s Kitchen

Taiwanese Style Flakey Mooncake Recipe

Taro swirl thousand-layer mooncakes, known as 芋頭酥 (Pinyin: Yùtou sū), are a popular pastry in Taiwan. The prep work for this recipe is incredibly time-consuming but once the filling and dough are made, the entire family can make these beautiful mooncakes together.

Make this recipe from Laura’s Kitchen

Mooncake Cookies Recipe

Not a fan of mooncakes but want to bake up some sweet festive treats using your mooncake molds? I tested a few batches of cookies to get the perfect recipe that works with standard mooncake molds. My tried and true recipe is easy and fun for kids too. Best of all—these cookies are not too sweet!

Make the mooncake cookies recipe

Image credit: Laura’s Kitchen

Eat Pomelo and Make a Pomelo Hat

Pomelo in Chinese, 柚 (Pinyin: Yòu), is a homophone for 佑 meaning “blessings” and 有 meaning “to have”. This lucky association makes pomelos a popular fruit to serve during the Mid-Autumn Festival and Lunar New Year. As a right of passage, parents must observe the tradition of making their kids wear pomelo hats and pose for photos. Pets are also not spared from the citrus hats. Plus, they will bring good fortune and blessings from the moon goddess.

Mid-Autumn Festival Crafts and Games

Holidays are a time to bond with your kids and what better way than to spend time together making keepsakes that will bring back fond memories for years to come. Crafts and games can help children learn about the cultures and traditions around the Mid-Autumn Festival.

beautiful mooncake decor made of clay

Air-dry Cay Mooncakes

We really enjoy making these clay mooncakes — no baking or kiln needed! Let them dry and paint as you wish. Glue on a magnet or use it as a paperweight. They make great gifts for teachers.

Learn how to make these easy clay mooncakes

mooncake bath bomb

Mooncake Bath Bombs

Get more out of your mooncake molds! Bath bombs are easy to make and can be given as gifts for friends with food allergies.

Learn how to make mooncake bath bombs

Image credit: Spot of Sunshine

Kleenex Box Upcycled Lantern

Make this lantern out of supplies you probably already have at home. The simple instructions and free printables will make this an easy activity to do with the kids so you can skip straight to the fun.

Get the instructions at Spot of Sunshine

Lantern Riddles

In Love Like the Galaxy episode 6, Zao Lusi attends her first lantern festival. She sees large lanterns with riddles written on them. Whoever answers the riddle wins the lantern. I did not know this was a century-old tradition! This game can be adapted for a classroom or home using red envelopes instead of lanterns. The child who answers the riddle correctly can claim a prize.

Get the instructions and riddles from Miss Panda Chinese

Mid-Autumn Festival Worksheets

Image credit: Dou Dou Books

Mid-Autumn Festival Activity Pack

Learn more about the Moon Festival with these colorful worksheets the kids will love!

Subscribe to Dou Dou Books newsletter to get free resources

Image credit: Edkids Home

19 Mid-Autumn Festival Worksheets

Edkids Home worksheets are available in different Bilingual English and Chinese versions (Traditional, Simplified, Zhuyin, and Pinyin). These worksheets are perfect for parents who want to teach their children about the Mid-Autumn Festival while improving their Chinese language skills.

Download from Edkids Home

Image credit: Lychee Press

Mid-Autumn Printables

Lychee Press is a publisher of children’s picture books that focus on Asian-American narratives, coupled with bilingual books that unlock the beauty of the Chinese language for those who aren’t native speakers. Printables are free for email subscribers.

Subscribe to Lychee Press emails

Fortune Cookie Mom’s Mid-Autumn Festival Theme Pack

Learn more about the Mid-Autumn Festival with Fortune Cookie Mom’s Mid-Autumn Festival worksheets available in 9 languages. There are over 40 pages of Chinese hands-on activities, writing practice, math skills practice, and coloring pages. Designed for pre-k and kindergartners.

Download from Fortune Cookie Mom

Toys Celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival

Incorporate cultural toys into your child’s Mid-Autumn Festival activities to introduce the traditions of the holiday. Having toys that celebrate your culture will help your child foster a deeper connection with your heritage.

Image credit: Baby Snack Time

Mid Autumn Festival Moon cake wooden playset 

Encourage pretend play and learn about the traditional Mid-autumn festival treats. This 35-piece wooden food set includes mooncakes and mold, rabbit steam buns and cookies, fruits, and a tea set. 

Order from Baby Snack Time

Image credit: Bitty Bao

Wooden Mooncake Playset

Bitty Bao’s adorable Mid-Autumn festival set includes four types of mooncakes, a wooden knife, a cutting board, an eggwash bowl, and a brush. The mooncake halves are magnetic so children can pretend to cut them and see their favorite fillings inside!

Order from Bitty Bao

Image credit: Culture Tatertots

Mooncake Play Kit

Capture the essence of the Mid-Autumn Festival with Culture Tatertot’s Mooncake Play kit. Each kit includes mooncake molds, Playdoh, a wipe-clean activity book, a DIY paper lantern, and a pouch to keep everything organized.

Order from Culture Tatortots

Image credit: Momthemage

Mooncake Play Dough Kits

These homemade scented play dough jars come with a holiday play dough mat (digital file), coloring pages, mooncake mold, and fillers such as red beans or pom poms.

Order from Momthemage

Image credit: Amazon

Over the Moon Action Figure

This set from Over the Moon includes a Fei Fei doll dressed in her space-explorer outfit with her removable t-shirt, shorts, bubble jacket, astronaut helmet, galactic moon boots, and glow-in-the-dark Gobi figure.

Order from Amazon

Dress Up in Traditional Clothing

Wearing festive clothing for your Mid-Autumn Festival activities can help to reinforce the significance of the occasion for children. Cultural clothing connects them to their heritage and customs, fostering a deeper sense of identity and pride. Plus, they will look adorable for family photos and create memories.

Image credit: Nianyi

Lantern Festival Hanfu Dress for Girls

Nuanyi is a Chinese clothing brand by illustrator Vikki Zhang. The beautiful garments feature her designs in delicate embroidery and printing. Her hanfu dresses will add whimsy to your holiday photos.

Order from Nianyi.com

Image credit: Hanfu Modern

Modern Chinese Dress for Kids

This modern dress design casually combines the hanfu style with the qipao’s mandarin collar and frog closures. Festive enough for a Mid-Autum family gathering but cute for any occasion.

Order at Hanfumodern.com

Image credit: Amazon

Boys Tang Suit

This outfit can be worn as a set, or wear the top as an open jacket over a white tee and blue jeans for a more casual stylish look.

Order from Amazon