I find it fascinating how different cultures celebrate similar changes in the nature. Harvesting and thanking Mother Nature for the crops and the food that we will enjoy during wintertime have given different Harvest Festivals around the world. The dates for these festivals are different depending on climate and crops and some of them are connected to the Harvest Moon, the full Moon that occurs closest to the Autumn Equinox. In China and other Asian countries the Harvest Season has given us The Mid-Autumn Festival, in the US and Canada the similar celebration is Thanksgiving, a national holiday.
We have adopted the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival among our Family Traditions since we have lived in Beijing. I love the values embodied by this celebration:
- gratitude: thanking nature for its gifts
- togetherness, family reunion: coming together as a family. Usually for this holidays Chinese people travel from far away to their home village to be with their family
- being in nature: traditionally people have picnics in orchards and gardens under the trees, watching the Harvest Moon
- generosity: giving to friends and family but also to less fortunate
- reflexion: this is also a time people think about what they want in their lives
I want to stress that these values are traditionally common to all Harvest Festivals I'm aware of, no matter in which culture they all celebrated
This will be our forth year celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival. We have celebrated the first two in China, in their original context, then, when we moved to Europe, we have adapted and adopted it.
Whether you are celebrating a Harvest Festival or not, here are some wonderful ways to mindfully celebrate autumn:
WATCHING THE FULL HARVEST MOON on the evening of September 24th
- If the clouds allow us, we will be watching the moon, being aware about its light, beauty and energy. My daughter will probably go to bed later than usual, which is also a tradition in Chinese families: for this special occasion children stay up much longer. We can see the moon from our windows but other favorite places are usually a lakeside, a balcony, a roof, a mountaintop (more difficult with young children..)
- If the weather is nice, we will have an outdoor picnic under the moon. Depending on where you live and if the weather is nice, you can organize a picnic under the trees.
- ... round shaped fruits and vegetables. They are symbols of the moon: watermelon, grapefruit, pomegranate, pear, persimmon, grapes, oranges, apples, peaches or other seasonal fruit, depending where you live.
- have a candle-lit diner. We usually lit candles for this special diner when we celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival
- cook seasonal organic food. And if you want to get closer to the nature, biodynamic food is great way of eating organic and at the same time respecting the moon phases.
- bake round-shaped cookies. Traditionally in China Moon Cakes are baked for this occasion
- Being grateful for what nature has to offer us, for the food we have, the water we drink...
- Before each meal, we usually say a little poem that we have learned in our Forest Playgroup and it's perfect for a Harvest/ Mid-Autumn Festival picnic or diner. It goes like this:
"Erde, die uns dies gebracht,
Sonne die es reif gemacht:
Liebe Sonne, liebe Erde,
Euer nie vergessen werde."
- by Christian Morgenstern
"Earth who gives us this food,
Sun who makes it ripe and good
Dear Earth, dear Sun,
By you we live, our loving thanks to you we give"
- In China people will ask for good things they want in their lives at this special occasion. I think that Mid-Autum Festival is a wonderful opportunity to set our intention for the new season or a new year. To do this you can use different medias:
- you can journal and answer these coaching questions:.
- What is my dream?
- What do I want?
- What are the possibilities?
- How will I know I reached what I want?
- What are the steps to get there?
- make a collage: a Vision Board
For this you will need a pile of magazines, scissors and a A3 paper sheet. Go through the magazines without too much thinking and analyzing, letting the pictures "choose" you and cut the pictures and the words that speak to your heart. Then go again through the images and words you've just cut and select those who express your vision for the season/ year(s) to come.
If you want, you can share some of your intentions of your vision board with your family on the evening you celebrate the Harvest/ Mid-Autimn Festival
- Decorations. Harvest Festivals are wonderful occasions to decorate your home with seasonal flowers, fruits and vegetables. In our Forest Playgroup we usually craft garlands with leaves, chestnuts and acorns during the harvest season
- Leaves wreaths
- Lanterns. Traditionally in China children craft colorful lanterns to be hung in trees, houses, or floated on rivers. They provide a beautiful view at night.
The weeks before the Mid-Autumn Festival we will be reading books about the moon, moon watching, harvesting and celebrating autumn.
And of course, a wonderful way to celebrate Harvest/ Mid-Autumn Festival is to visit a local farm and participate to harvest.
You will find more ideas about how to mindfully celebrate autumn in this blogpost I wrote . If you want to create and prepare authentic celebrations that are aligned with your family values, you can read this.
I would love to hear about your family celebrations! You can write a comment here bellow or on Instagram