Mid-autumn Festival and customs in Xiamen

Updated: 20 Aug 2012
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Xiamen moon-cake gambling

Go for the game of Bobing to experience Xiamen and Minnan unique culture at Mid-autumn Festival


The Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese lunar calendar. It falls on 30th September this year. WOX has provided the customs of Mid-Autumn Festival in Xiamen for your reference and wish you a happy Mid-autumn Festival.

Every year when the Mid-Autumn Festival approaches, 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".

Origin of Mid-autumn festival

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.

Customs of Mid-Autumn Festival in Xiamen 


Xiamen mooncake gambling

All the "Bo Bing" game requires are six dice and a china bowl. Just throw the dice into the bowl and the different pips you get stand for different ranks of awards you will win


A special custom “Moon-cake Gambling” or "Bo Bing." will take place in Mid-Autumn Festival in Xiamen. It has become a popular traditional activity among local people. On every Mid-Autumn Festival, family members gather to gamble mooncakes.

Nowadays, the moon cakes are not the only kind of award. With the upgrade of people's living standards, daily necessities, household appliances and even money can also be won.

Xiamen people believe that the person, who wins "Zhuangyuan" in the game, will have good luck that year. The Mid-Autumn Festival is the second important holiday in Xiamen besides Spring Festival.

Xiamen Mooncake gambling rules 


Rule of BoBing Game in Xiamen

Rule of Bo Bing Game

All the "Bo Bing" game requires are six dice and a china bowl. Just throw the dice into the bowl and the different pips you get stand for different ranks of awards you will win

The gambling game has six ranks of awards, which are named as the winners in ancient imperial examinations, and has 63 different sized mooncakes as prizes.

From the lowest to the highest, the titles of six ranks are Xiucai (the one who passed the examination at the county level), Juren (a successful candidate at the provincial level), Jinshi (a successful candidate in the highest imperial examination), Tanhua, Bangyan and Zhuangyuan (respectively the number three to number one winners in the imperial examination at the presence of the emperor).

Game players throw the dice by turns. Different pips they count win the player a relevant "title" and corresponding type of moon cakes.

The lucky player who gets the pips to make it the title of "Zhuangyuan," will be the biggest winner in the game, and gain the largest moon cake.

The game has something to do with the number "four." In mooncake gambling, the pips for most ranks of the awards are related to this number. For example, one die of four pips wins you "Xiucai" and the smallest mooncake. And if you get four or more dice of four pips, then you win "Zhuangyuan."

The game provides 32 mooncakes for "Xiucai," 16 for "Juren" and the rest may be deduced by analogy. Only one player will win the lucky title "Zhuangyuan." That is why a total of 63 mooncakes are prepared for the game.

In addition, if the dice read "six," then forget all those boring ranks. Turn off all the lights, and then seize as many prizes as possible in the darkness. Changes of prizes has made the game even popular among younger generations



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