This is an important festival in Chinese culture and is a time for family reunions. When the full moon rises, families sit together to watch it, eat moon cakes and sing moon poems. It is also a romantic festival. Couples watch the moon and eat moon cakes, but if they are apart, they can sit and watch the moon at the same time so it feels like they are together.
No one is sure of where this festival originates but one popular belief is that it comes from the ancient legend of Hou Yi and Chang'e. Earth had ten suns which each shone down on the earth in turn, but one day all ten shone together. The heat was unbearable for the crops and for the people. It is also believed that fierce beasts ran wild on the earth, terrorizing the people. Hou Yi, a strong archer but a tyrannical ruler destroyed nine of the suns, saving one after requests and shouts from his people. The beasts and the terrible drought disappeared. To save the people from her husband's tyrannical rule, Chang'e stole the elixir of life from her husband (that he had stolen from a goddess). She drank it and was able fly to the moon where she escaped her husband and has lived in a palace there ever since. Hou Yi loved his wife so much, even though she escaped him, and decided not to shoot the moon.