the mid-autumn or moon festival is one rich in poetic(诗意的.) significance. ancient legends(古代的传说) that became interwoven with this festival‘s celebration further contribute to the warm regard in which it has always been held by the chinese people. according to the lunar calendar(农历)， the seventh， eighth， and ninth months constitute the autumn season. mid-autumn festival falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month， precisely in the middle of this season， when the heat of the summer has given way to cool autumn weather， marked by blue skies and gentle breezes. on this day the moon is at its greatest distance from the earth; at no other time is it so luminous. then， as the chinese say， “the moon is perfectly round.” in the villages the heavy work involved in the summer harvest has already been completed but the autumn harvest has not yet arrived.
the actual origins of the mid-autumn festival are still very unclear. the earliest records are from the time of the great han dynasty emperor wu di (156-87 b.c.)， who initiated celebrations lasting three days， including banquets and “viewing the moon” evenings on the toad terrace. we know that people during the jin dynasty (265-420 a.d.) continued the custom of mid-autumn festival celebrations， and similar accounts have come down to us from the time of the tang dynasty. during the ming dynasty (1368-1644) houses and gardens were decorated with numerous lanterns and the sound of gongs and drums filled the air.(qiewo.com)
moon cakes came on sale shortly before festival time. in the past， one could get some cakes shaped like pagodas， others like a horse and rider， fish or animals. still others were decorated with the images of rabbits， flowers， or goddesses. there were a myriad of different fillings available： sugar， melon seeds， almonds， orange peel， sweetened cassia blossom， or bits of ham and preserved beef. the cakes are of the northern and southern styles， but the latter (also called guangdong-style) are the most popular and are available throughout the country.
the round shape of cakes just symbolizes not only the moon but also the unity of the family. therefore the mid-autumn festival is actually a day for family reunion.