I am very fortunate to be marrying into a Chinese family so I have been learning about the traditions. Coming up this week is the official celebration of the Harvest Moon. In China, the full or Harvest Moon in October is celebrated with mooncakes, which are offered to the Goddess Chang-O, the Lady in the Moon. This is the time when wheat and rice are harvested, making it an important time of thanksgiving for food to have on hand through the winter season.

The rice and the wheat are baked into cakes that look like the big round moon up in the sky and are used as offerings, along with melons and pomegranates, to the goddess. The women making the mooncakes put their intentions into them by whispering secret wishes into the batter. The unifying action of blending and mixing the tasty cakes represents family harmony. One sweet aspect of this ritual is the selection of a young girl to enter the “heavenly garden.” At the ritual feast for the goddess of the Harvest Moon, this young lady becomes the prophet of her family and community, and she is urged to share her visions about the coming year and the prosperity of the village or the land. Feasting on mooncakes and other ritual foods is followed by games and singing under the bright light of Chang-O’s moon. Here is a traditional wish for the season

May we all be blessed with longevity,

though thousands of miles apart,

we are still able to share

the beauty of the moon together.