Quote EndQuote Cross-Cultural Strategy

What’s that Date? Harvest Festivals Wax and Wane with the Moon

Posted by Vanessa Vachet | 09.15.16
Many Cultural Celebrations are determined by the Cycles of the Moon

Many Cultural Celebrations are determined by the Cycles of the Moon


The Chinese Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is here! Does your business have a special celebration or marketing campaign in place? Or did you miss the date? Last year, the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival landed on Sept 27th. This year, it’s Sept 15th… Oh no! Why is that? Ever wonder why certain festivals fall on certain dates? And why do those keep changing year to year?

First off, we cannot stress enough the importance of local cultural festivals, especially if your goal is to:

a)       make ethnic customers aware of your brand or products

b)      to gain their loyalty and trust

 There are over a million ethnic customers in the Greater Vancouver Area(GVA), so it’s worth investing in something fun and relevant. Not only could you gain the attention of ethnic communities, but also those in the ‘mainstream’ who want to learn more about Canada’s cultural diversity.  

You can do this in many ways, from direct involvement in event sponsorship, to setting up a special festival-themed marketing campaign, to hosting a celebration for your staff.

But you don’t want to schedule an advertising blitz for the wrong week! Or worse yet, after the festival has already passed. How embarrassing would that be?


It all starts with getting the dates right. 

In the West, especially in business, we follow the Gregorian calendar, which is based on the Roman Julian calendar and solar cycles. But some cultures have a lunisolar calendar which is mostly based on the cycles of the moon.

This is the basis of the Chinese Calendar, which is used to determine auspicious dates and festival days such as the Dragon Boat Festival and Chinese New Year. And since the mid-Autumn Moon Festival is nearing, let’s look at how the Chinese Calendar determines that specific date of celebration.

The Chinese follow a Lunar Calendar, which also determines the Chinese Zodiac

The Chinese follow a Lunar Calendar, which also determines the Chinese Zodiac

The ancient Chinese had a close relationship with the cycle of the seasons and agricultural production. For instance, to express their thanks to the moon and celebrate the harvest, they offered a sacrifice to the moon on autumn days – hence the creation of the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, which should fall around the 15th day of lunar month number 8. As it turns out, this is a “full moon day”, when the moon is at its fullest and brightest.

But why does the date change every year? Why is it so loosely fixed?

The Autumnal Equinox full moon generally falls on the 15th of September, or within two days of it. That’s why the 15th was generally chosen for the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. However, the Chinese lunar calendar does not coincide perfectly with the cycles of the moon. Each year, these cycles change slightly and so important dates can vary from one year to the next.


The Hindu Calendar follows both the solar and lunar cycles and determines festival dates

The Hindu Calendar follows both Solar and Lunar cycles and Determines Festival Dates


Many of the Hindu festivals, like Diwali, are also based on the cycle of nature. Yet, Hindus follow both solar and lunisolar calendars, and in India, dates of celebration often depend on location.

For instance, in southern India, months begin at new moon. While in northern India, months begin at full moon. That may explain why some festival dates will occur at different times, depending on which city you live in.

Hindu festivals that follow the cycles of the moon will also vary year to year, because the moon cycles don’t always match the Hindu calendars. That’s why Hindu calendars often introduce occasional ‘leap months’ to synchronize the lunar cycle with the solar year. This can also alter important festival dates.

That’s why it’s important to research cultural celebrations. Don’t assume that they’ll always be on the same date every year.

For instance, in Southern India they have a festival called Onam. According to the Hindu calendar, Onam falls on the 12th day of the waxing moon, in the sixth month of Bhadon. This is usually around August or September, but because the celebration is traditionally tied to the harvesting of the rice fields, the festival dates can vary.

Participation in Cultural Festivals can Help You Engage Your Target Audience- But Check the Dates Every Year!

Participation in Cultural Festivals can Help You Engage Your Target Audience- But Check the Dates Every Year!


As you can see, there are many reasons why festival dates change every year, especially when it comes to Chinese and Hindu celebrations. The fact that many of them follow the lunar cycle or a lunar calendar may explain why sometimes festival days have to be adjusted year to year, to more closely adhere to the moon’s phases.

So the next time you’re considering becoming involved in any cultural festivity, whether it’s the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, Diwali, Ramadan or Chuseok, don’t miss the date! Make sure you check the right calendar and contact us at QEQ to learn how festivals and cultural days could be incorporated into your overall consumer and employee engagement strategies.


For more information or to book a free consultation, contact alisa@quoteendquote.ca


Resources: Images provided by: (in descending order): Flickr –Rachel KramerPixabay, Wikipedia, QEQ Diwali images