Window on China

Basel and Shanghai have enjoyed a successful city twinning since 2007. The "Window on China" event series makes the partnership tangible and something to be experienced.

Basel’s Mid-Autumn Festival

Lion dance at the Mid-Autumn Festival 2016
Photo: Bettina Matthiessen

A recurring event of the "Window on China" is the Chinesisches Mondfest in Basel. Every year since 2010, the folk festival on Kleiner Münsterplatz has time and again enabled visitors to learn about Chinese culture and created space for encounters between the Basel population and the local Chinese community. The around 6,000 visitors which flock to the festival on a (mostly) beautiful autumn day can experience the rich traditions of the Middle Kingdom hands-on, including Tai Ji, Chinese musical instruments, calligraphy, magic, dance and acrobatics. On top of this, visitors can sample a range of culinary delights from China which few Chinese restaurants in Switzerland have on offer. Thanks to Basel’s city partnership with Shanghai, the Mid-Autumn festival frequently attracts artists from the Chinese metropolis.

Traditional holiday

The mid-autumn festival, which takes place on the 15th day of the 8th month of the moon calendar, hence at the end of September or the beginning of October, is the most important Chinese family celebration after the new year festival. The full moon is a symbol for the family gathering. On the day, sweet or savoury traditional moon cakes are given as gifts and eaten together.

The mid-autumn festival goes back to an old legend: The heavenly empress gave the hero Hou Yi an elixir of immortality. Since Hou Yi preferred to remain on earth with his wife Chang’e, he gave her the elixir for safekeeping. While Chang’e hid the bottle, she was observed by her husband’s rival. Before he could steal the elixir, Chang’e grabbed the bottle and swallowed the contents. She floated off into the sky and has lived on the moon ever since. Every autumn, people pay homage to the moon goddess Chang’e.