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Customs of Mid-Autumn Festival in Xiamen


09:23, October 21, 2011

As the Mid-Autumn Festival approaches, when the night comes, streets and lanes in Xiamen will come alive with the euphonious clang of dice colliding with china bowls during moon cake gambling. Xiamen's "moon cake gambling" is also called "the Mid-Autumn Festival cake gambling" or "festival cake gambling". The formation of this custom is related to Zheng Chenggong, a national hero. It is told that Zheng Chenggong stationed his troops in Xiamen more than 300 years ago, on the full moon night of the 15th day of the eighth Chinese month, officers and soldiers, who were full of the heroic spirit that overturned the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911) and reinstated the Ming Dynasty, found it hard to avoid feelings of missing hometowns and folks. To resolve and relieve soldiers' pains of missing hometowns and folks during the festival, Hong Xu, who served under Zheng Chenggong, devised a mooncake gambling game to let soldiers admire the full moon and gamble for mooncakes. Zheng Chenggong personally approved that, during six nights from the 13th to the 18th of the eighth lunisolar month, the army would admire the full moon and gamble for moon cakes in turns according to odd and even dates. Later, this unique custom was gradually disseminated and improved among locals, becoming an interesting folk activity. In the first year relatives and friends or sworn brothers and sisters would club together to buy a box of moon cakes or two and gamble together. Whoever won would give everybody a box of moon cakes to gamble with next Mid-Autumn Festival. If anyone had a child, the winner should give him/her two boxes. Thus, there is increase in mooncakes, but no decrease year by year, so they would have to divide into two independent groups again. The gambling is hosted by the elder of a common family, who buys a box or two of mooncakes each year. All the family members gamble in a ring.


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