Moon Festival is one of the most important cultural holidays in Taiwan. Moon Festival is held on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month, which can fall between mid-September to early October in the Gregorian calendar.
Moon Festival is also known as Mid Autumn Festival or Harvest Festival. It's a time for families to gather and eat moon cake, drink tea, and admire the full moon.
There are many legends associated with moon festival. One of the most popular is the story of Hou Yi, an immortal archer that shot down 9 extra suns from the sky and saved the earth from being scorched.
Unfortunately, those 9 suns were the sons of the Jade God. As punishment, he made Hou Yi mortal.
Sometime after that, Hou Yi met a young woman returning home with water from the river. He stopped her and asked her for a drink. The young woman, whose name was Chang-e, recognized Hou Yi as the one who had saved the earth from the scorching suns and gave him a flower as a token of respect.
In return Hou Yi gave Chang-e a silver fox fur and in this way their love was kindled. Shortly afterwards they were married and lived happily together.
Hou Yi's love for Chang-e was so great that he wanted it to last forever. So he sought the elixir of immortality from the Western Queen. As a reward for his good deeds, the Western Queen gave Hou Yi a pill. If Hou Yi shared the pill with Chang-e they would both enjoy eternal life. But if only one of them took it that one would become an immortal.
An evil man known as Feng Meng learned of Hou Yi's pill and wanted it for himself. While Hou Yi was out hunting, he went to Chang-e and demanded the pill. Knowing that she could not resist Feng Meng's strength, Chang-e swallowed the pill rather than handing it over. She became lighter and lighter and rose into the the sky until she reached the moon where she has lived ever since.
On his return home Hou Yi learned what had happened. Overcome with grief at losing Chang-e, he left the earth and went to live on the sun. Once a year, on the 15th day of the 8th month Hou Yi visits his wife. That is why the moon is full and beautiful on that night.
The date of the Moon Festival is calculated by the Lunar Calendar. This traditional calendar is still in common use in modern-day Taiwan and is used for determining holidays such as the Chinese New Year, Lantern Festival and Dragon Boat Festival. It is also used for selecting auspicious days for such activities as moving house, starting a new business or getting married.
Many older people (and some young people) celebrate their birthday according to the lunar calendar. It is also used in agriculture, and for this purpose seems to be a more accurate predictor of weather patterns than the western Gregorian calendar.
The lunar calendar has 12 months of 29 or 30 days. In order to maintain synchronicity there is a "leap month" every 3 years or so. This is similar to the leap year of the Gregorian calendar but instead of adding an extra day the lunar leap month repeats a whole month.