Guide to Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival Activities and Traditions for Kids

family admiring the moon on Mid-Autumn Festival

Wondering how to celebrate Chinese Mid-Autumn Moon Festival with kids at home or school? In this guide, we delve into ancient Chinese traditions plus modern-day Mid-Autumn Festival activities for kids.

Growing up as the only Chinese American family in my school district, we rarely ate mooncakes and never got a chance to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Luckily these days, you can celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival traditions anywhere! No matter your location, you can go all out or keep festivities simple at home or school.

I’m grateful that kids of all ages (including mine!) have lots of fun Mid-Autumn Festival activities to choose from.

What is Mid-Autumn Festival?

How to celebrate Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival traditions with kids

The Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival is also known as the Moon Festival, Mooncake Festival, and 中秋节/中秋節 (zhōngqiū jié). It’s a time-honored celebration for millions of people across the globe.

At its heart, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a Chinese Thanksgiving. Relatives gather together, celebrate harvest, express gratitude for blessings, and share a special meal.

In addition to admiring the full moon, families also enjoy retelling the legend about 嫦娥奔月 (Cháng’é ascending to the moon) and 玉兔捣药 / 玉兔搗藥 (Jade Rabbit making the elixir of immortality). 

When to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival with kids?

As summer gradually gives way to autumn, families come together to commemorate this holiday.

The specific date of the Mid-Autumn Festival changes from year to year. According to the lunisolar calendar, it’s celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month.

This means that the holiday is sometime during September or October when the moon is at its roundest and brightest – a symbol of unity and togetherness.

In 2023, Mid-Autumn Festival falls on Friday, September 29.

In the next few years, Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the following dates:

  • Tuesday, September 17, 2024
  • Monday, October 6, 2025
  • Friday, September 25, 2026

At school, some teachers try to celebrate the holiday during the week of the Mid-Autumn Festival. Others group the Mid-Autumn Festival with other fall lessons or Thanksgiving activities.

Which Asian countries celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival activities?

The Mid-Autumn Festival is primarily celebrated in East Asian countries, each with their own unique names and traditions associated with the festival.

In China, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia – countries with large ethnic Chinese populations – the Mid-Autumn Festival is called 中秋节/中秋節 (zhōngqiū jié).

  • In Korea, Mid-Autumn Festival is called 추석 or Chuseok.
  • In Vietnam, Mid-Autumn Festival is known as Tết Trung Thu.
  • In Japan, the Mid-Autumn Festival is known as 月見,つきみ, or Tsukimi.

Explore this: Inclusive Lunar New Year Lesson Plan for Kids

What are traditional foods for Mid-Autumn Festival?

In Chinese culture, mooncakes (月饼, yuèbǐng) are the quintessential Mid-Autumn Festival treat! This pastry is round like the moon, and the inside has a sweet or savory filling.

Other important foods depend on regional and family culture. For example, in Taiwan, moonlight barbeques have become a popular tradition in recent decades.

Depending on personal preferences, crab 螃蟹 (pángxiè), duck 鸭子/鴨子 (yāzi), pomelo 柚子 (yòuzi), lotus root 莲藕/蓮藕(lián’ǒu), taro 芋头/芋頭 (yù tóu) might also be part of the family feast.

Fun Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival activities for kids

Looking for fun and easy ways to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival with kids? Check out these Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival activities.

Reading activity: Mid-Autumn Festival books for kids

Mid-Autumn Moon Festival Books for Children

Reading is an important way for kids to learn about Chinese culture. Thankfully, there are several fantastic children’s books about Mid-Autumn Festival traditions.

Explore the best Chinese Mid-Autumn Moon Festival books for kids here.

Related: Great Korean Chuseok Books for Kids

Sensory activities: DIY Chinese mooncakes for kids

Playdough mooncakes mid-autumn festival activity

Grab some mooncake molds and play dough for hands-on mooncake play!

Years ago when we were first learning how to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival, play dough mooncakes became an instant hit. I’ve lost count of how many times our children have done this simple Mid-Autumn Festival activity!

Get our easy recipe and learn how to make play dough mooncakes here.

Lunar science learning: Moon phase crafts and activities

Best moon phase activities and fun moon crafts for kids

Since the Mid-Autumn Festival date depends on the moon phases, it’s a great time to learn a little science.

Simple crafts: Mid-Autumn Festival lanterns for kids

visual of how to make paper lanterns

If you’re wondering how to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival at school, here’s an easy activity for kids of all ages. Just like Chinese Lunar New Year, lanterns are used to decorate homes and cities for Mid-Autumn Festival.

No prep activities: Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival videos for kids

Musical activity: Learn Chinese songs about the moon

The Moon Represents My Heart Chinese Song Lyrics

Celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival by learning a new song! From Li Bai’s famous Tang poem to 月亮代表我的心 Moon Represents My Heart Lyrics, there are so many great songs and poems inspired by Mid-Autumn Festival.

Explore Chinese Moon Songs and Poems here.

Eating activities: Mooncakes and traditional Chinese foods

These days, you might be able to find mooncakes at your local Cocsto. If your nearby grocery stores don’t have mooncakes, you can order mooncakes online.

Mooncakes and Mid-Autumn Festival videos in Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese)

Since we live in a small, non-diverse American town, I’m grateful that culture is a lot more accessible these days. Here are some shops that sell mooncake gift boxes:

If you’re vegan or have food allergies, Annie T Cakes is a wonderful bakery in the Bay Area! For Mid-Autumn Festival, she offers pick-up in San Jose and delivery throughout California. As a food allergy family, I really appreciate her careful and compassionate customer service.

If you enjoy cooking, try these popular recipes for Mid-Autumn Festival:

Silly activity: Wear a pomelo hat!

Pomelo Hat Chrissy Teigen
Photo credit: Cravings by Chrissy Teigen

In Taiwanese culture, pomelo peel hats are a fun activity for Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations.

To make pomelo hats, cut off the top and score the sides. (If you don’t have a pomelo, a large grapefruit would work!) Enjoy the fruit on the inside, and leave the peel intact to create a hat.

Why do parents put pomelo hats on their kids? Some say that it helps Chang’e, the moon lady, notice the children and give them blessings.

Although pomelo hats are not a common tradition in China or other East Asian countries, TV personality Chrissy Teigen has proudly inherited the pomelo hat tradition from her Thai mother.

Cultural traditions transcend national boundaries; each family decides which activities to embrace or omit!

What’s your favorite way to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival activities with kids?

Please share in the comments below! We’d love to learn how you celebrate Mid-Autumn festival at home or school.

One Comment

  1. Wow! What an amazing article and list of resources – you’ve thought of everything! Big thank you for including “Celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival”!

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