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Mid-Autumn Festival

Rising Covid-19 Concerns Appear In China As Nation Gears Up For Mid-Autumn Festival

With the arrival of the month of October comes the widely celebrated Mid-Autumn festival in Asia. On October 1st, hundreds of millions of individuals are expected to flood public transportation in what’s known as one of the busiest travel times in the world’s most populated country. The eight-day festival marks China’s first major holiday celebration since the coronavirus pandemic began. 

While life in China has almost completely returned to normalcy in terms of the pandemic, this week will be a true test to how successful they were at taming the virus/will continue to keep case numbers down. The festival, however, is projected to bring in a lot of money, as it does every year, which would be a great boost for China’s dwindling economy. 

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Last year 782 million domestic trips were made during the festival week in China, which generated around $95 billion in tourism revenue. This year, the ministry of culture and tourism in China is projecting 550 million domestic trips, while China’s largest online travel agency, Ctrip, is predicting the number to be more around 600 million. 

The thought of that many individuals moving within such a short time period seems unfathomable for most citizens across the world also still battling this virus. But in China, the virus is less of a concern for the holiday week, as the nation has had close to zero local transmissions and has continued to implement some of the world’s strictest border control measures for international travelers. 

While Wuhan, China acted as the initial epicenter for Covid-19, the country has since been able to contain the virus and has only dealt with smaller-scaled outbreaks that occasionally would flare up. There haven’t been any locally transmitted symptomatic cases since mid-August, and any individuals coming into China from overseas have to go through a vigorous screening process.

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China’s overall restrictions on domestic movement have for the most part been able to lift. Some cities are requiring their citizens to show a green health code on their smartphones at certain public transportation facilities, but the implementation of that policy has been relatively relaxed as of late. International leaders view this week’s festivities as a sign of China’s confidence, especially considering they’ve been one of the countries most on top of enforcing their health and safety measures. 

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention released a statement last week in which they claimed all domestic travel for the country can be arranged as normal for the upcoming holiday week, as long as all cities in mainland China maintain their low risk status. Travelers are still encouraged to protect themselves with facial coverings and social distancing.

China’s Culture and Tourism Ministry has also ordered prominent tourist sites to restrict capacity to 75% during the festival week, and to better facilitate potential contact tracing efforts in the future, all visitors are required to register which sites they’re going to visit online before being granted entry. 

While the Mid-Autumn Festival typically sees a massive spike in international travel among various celebrating Asian countries, this year all overseas trips will likely be impossible due to border restrictions heavily being enforced within most Asian countries. On major Chinese highways it’s expected that massive traffic jams will be occurring as they do every year, as it’s predicted that an average of 51 million highway trips happen per day during the week-long festival. 

Harvest Moon Festival

How To Join In On Mid-Autumn Harvest Moon Festivals This Year

Every year the first full moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox is recognized as the Harvest Moon, and is widely celebrated across the world as one of the biggest lunar events of the year. The autumnal equinox in general is significant for many cultures around the world. In many Asian countries it’s believed that the full moon is the brightest during the Mid-Autumn Festival, which is celebrated with a variety of customs and traditions. 

Traditionally, the Mid-autumn festival is observed in China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines. It’s celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, which usually falls in mid-September or early October. This year, the full moon is projected to occur on October 1st, here’s how some of these countries will be celebrating:

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Festival customs vary based on country, like any holiday celebration. All generally focus on family gatherings, special foods, lanterns, and offerings to the moon. In Taiwan, for example, the event is a national holiday and involves eating mooncakes and pomelo. The food traditions on this night are just as important as turkey on Thanksgiving or a ham on Christmas. 

In South Korea the celebrations last for three days to give everyone enough time to reconnect with their families and friends; normally people come back to South Korea from all over the world to celebrate the festival. In Vietnam the event is called the “Children’s Festival” and involves kids carrying lanterns while they watch traditional lion dances and enjoy some homemade mooncakes. 

Mooncakes are another generally accepted traditional element of the Mid-Autumn festival. People either give them to their loved ones as gifts, make them for family gatherings, or donate to local organizations. The cakes are meant to represent the full moon, and are traditionally filled with either bean paste, egg yolk, truffles, chocolate, or even ice cream. 

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The legend of the festival involves a hero named Hou Yi, who single handedly shot down nine of the ten suns that were overheating the earth. As a reward, the Goddess of the Heavens gave him a special elixir that would enable him to become a god himself. Hou Yi’s wife, however, was forced to drink the elixir one day after an evil man tried to steal it from them. She then flew up to the moon along with her rabbit, so in a fit of heartbreak Hou Yi placed his wife’s favorite foods on his table every year on the day of the fullest moon, hoping she would return to him. 

Now, Netflix is even getting involved in the festivities with the release of “Over the Moon,” a computer animated musical that’s based on the legend behind the festival. The musical will follow a young girl named Fei Fei, who’s coping with the loss of her mother and becomes enthused to learn about the legend of the Moon Goddess. 

Lady M is a very prominent mooncake maker and recently announced a collaboration with Netflix and Pearl Studios – the studio producing “Over the Moon” – to celebrate the film and upcoming event. The artist created a limited-edition lantern that actually glows to highlight its opulent gold and emerald accents. If you click a button the Moon goddess and other mythical creatures will appear as well. The lantern also comes with six different moon cake variations to keep with tradition.