Mooncake Festival, or the Mid-Autumn Festival, is a traditional celebration of many East and Southeast Asian cultures. China's emperors worshipped the moon for bountiful harvests for 3,000 years, making it the second-most important holiday after Chinese New Year.
On the 15th day of the 8th month, there will be a full moon at night, which marks the festival's date. This day marks the fullest and brightest moon in the Chinese calendar, right in the middle of harvest time in Autumn.
Every year, people carry and display lanterns of all sizes and shapes as beacons of prosperity and good fortune. This festival is characterized by the consumption of mooncakes, a rich pastry usually filled with sweet beans, yolks, meat, or lotus seed paste.
Why We Celebrate Mid Autumn Festival
A gathering of family and friends, or the harvesting of crops for a festival. It is said this day has the brightest and roundest moon, which signifies a family reunion. It is therefore for this reason that the festival is held in such high regard.
Giving thanks for a harvest or bringing long-lasting harmony.
A prayer for babies, a spouse, beauty, longevity, or a successful future. There are many ways that Chinese people around world celebrate the Mid-Autumn festival.
It is around these concepts that festival's traditions and myths were formed, even though they have changed through time as civilisation, culture and religion have evolved.
The Origins Of The Mooncake Festival
Over the years, the Mid-autumn Festival has gradually developed and evolved, resulting in an annual tradition that has been celebrated for thousands of years. It was the ancient emperors that honoured the moon in autumn by offering sacrifices.
Later, the natives and scholars would admire the moon and sing praise to the moon during the Mid-autumn festival.
Worshipping the moon during the Mid-autumn festival was very popular during the Zhou Dynasty. There were many sacrificial offerings made to the moon, including mooncakes, watermelons, oranges, apples, red dates, plums, grapes, and many others. Watermelons and mooncakes were a must.
Depending on the number of family members in each household, the huge moon cake would be divided into several portions after the worship.
People of the Tang Dynasty attached great importance to the worship of the moon during the Mid-autumn Festival. During the Tang Dynasty, the Mid-autumn festival became a permanent event.
The Tale Of Chang'e
As with many cultural festivals, the Mid-Autumn Festival has a mythological history. In folklore, Chang'e's tragic transformation into the moon goddess is one of the most beloved stories.
Lunar offerings may also be made to Chang'e, the Moon Goddess of Immortality, a much more well-known lunar deity. This myth explains why people during this time worshiped the moon.
A legendary archer named Hou Yi lived in ancient China. He was married to Chang'e. Ten suns rose simultaneously one year, causing enormous disaster for the people. One of the suns was left to supply light after Yi shot down nine of them.
The immortal sent Yi the elixir of immortality because he admired him. He didn't like the idea of abandoning Chang'e and becoming immortal without her, so he gave her the elixir. Unfortunately, Chang'e drank the elixir as she guarded it from a greedy apprentice, but she floated to the moon as she became so light.
Each year, when the moon was at its fullest, Hou Yi held a feast in memory of his wife to catch a glimpse of her shadow.
The Significance Of The Mooncake
Mooncakes are the most popular Mid-Autumn Festival snack. Family and friends slice and share the yummy snack.
Lotus seed paste, salted egg yolks, and lard are the most common ingredients in mooncakes. Among the other ingredients that are popular are nuts, red beans, and custards.
There has also been a range of modern variations such as truffles, the famous D24 and Mao Shan Wang durian mooncake and yam paste. People who do not enjoy traditional mooncakes have an alternative with these varieties.
What The Mooncake Represents
As a symbol of wholeness and togetherness, roundness has a special significance in Chinese culture. Full moons signify prosperity and family reunions. Mid-Autumn Festival mooncakes are shaped like round moons.
Mooncakes are more than just food. The practise is deeply rooted in the cultural traditions of China, symbolizing the spirituality of the Chinese people. Mid-Autumn Festival is a time to share love and best wishes with family and friends by eating mooncakes.