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.
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.
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.
Our Moon Festival
Author: Yobe Qiu
This children’s picture book, Our Moon Festival by Yobe Qiu, beautifully illustrates the unique ways that different cultures celebrate the moon festival.
幸福月餅店 Happy Mooncake Shop
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.
Celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival
Author: Eugenia Chu
Learn about the Mid-Autumn Festival and traditions in Eugenia Chu’s latest book which includes activities for children to enjoy.
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!
中秋節 (Mid-Autumn Festival)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mid-Autumn Festival Worksheets
Mid-Autumn Festival Activity Pack
Learn more about the Moon Festival with these colorful worksheets the kids will love!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.