‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’: What Is Moon-Viewing Day? The Japanese Holiday That Inspired the In-Game Event

The Animal Crossing franchise has long incorporated real-life holidays and events from all over the world. Since the release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons in 2020, Nintendo has continued to add events to the game’s annual calendar. For September 2021, New Horizons has two events running simultaneously: Moon-Viewing Day and Chuseok. What happens during these celebrations in real life?

'Animal Crossing: New Horizons' player waters pumpkins
‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ | Nintendo

Moon-Viewing Day celebrates the autumn moon

According to NHK Educational, Moon-Viewing Day is a Japanese holiday that honors the autumn moon “on the 15th day of the 8th month of the old lunar calendar,” which translates to mid-September and early October today. The holiday dates back to the Heian age when aristocrats gathered outside to celebrate the beauty of the autumn moon with poetry and music.

“The full moon is considered particularly beautiful in mid-autumn when the air is crisp and clear,” NHK Educational says.

Moon-Viewing Day also includes various offerings to the spirits of the moon. Dango, or white cakes made from rice flour, are common, as well as miscanthus grass and taro potatoes, depending on the region.

‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ introduced new items to honor Moon-Viewing Day

September 2021 marks the second year that Animal Crossing: New Horizons celebrates Moon-Viewing Day. In 2020, Nintendo offered a gray moon-shaped rug to honor the holiday; that same rug has returned in 2021. Additionally, from Sept. 12 to Sept. 21, players can order Dango and moon cakes from Nook Shopping via the kiosk in Resident Services or players’ mobile phones if the feature has been unlocked.

Here’s Nintendo’s description of the Moon-Viewing Day event, according to Animal Crossing World:

Admiring the moon is a long-held tradition, but our celestial neighbor is especially beautiful as it hangs in the sky at this time of year. Please consider [these commemorative dango and this commemorative moon rug] an event souvenir.

Celebrated in parts of Asia, the 15th night on the 8th month–according to the lunisolar calendar–has a harvest moon. This is when the full moon is perfectly situated for observation. How about some moon cakes?

The game also celebrates Chuseok at the same time

Chuseok, a Korean holiday, also runs in Animal Crossing: New Horizons from Sept. 12 to Sept. 21. For this event, players can purchase Songpyeon, or “filled rice cakes that are steamed on a bed of pine needles,” according to Nintendo.

Chuseok, also known as Korean Thanksgiving Day, is a harvest festival that typically lasts three days, as Asia Society notes. Families gather together in their hometowns to celebrate their ancestors with traditional feasts. Chuseok is also a holiday for exchanging gifts between relatives, friends, and co-workers.

The September calendar in Animal Crossing: New Horizons isn’t too busy, but the game does also celebrate the Grape-Harvest festival all month long, featuring a Grape-Harvest Basket based on traditions in Spain, Italy, Germany, and France. In the Northern Hemisphere, Sept. 1 also marks the first day of the fall season with Pine Cones and Acorns.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is available now on Nintendo Switch.

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