Celebrating the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival with Mooncake

Saturday, September 25, 2021

On the 15th day of the 8th lunar month in the Chinese calendar, China celebrates the Mid-Autumn Festival.  That works out to September 21st this year.  Did you notice–this date closely aligns with the Autumnal Equinox!!!  And that occurred just a few days ago, on Wednesday, September 22.  This Festival, also known as the Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival lasts at least 3 days and may go as long as 7 days.  This is a big deal in China!!!  On a par with the Chinese New Year!!!  It has been celebrated for over 3,000 years to mark the harvest season and it coincides with the full moon of autumn which they believe to be the brightest and fullest of the year.

Harvest Moon
(Roadcrusher at English Wikipedia, GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2)

How do the Chinese Celebrate this festival? 

Well, lighting lanterns would be at the top of the list.  Considered symbolic beacons that light a path to prosperity and good fortune, lanterns of all shapes and sizes are carried in parades, floated on air or water, and used as static displays. Of course, family, friends, fireworks, dragon dancing, eating, and gifting are all part of the festivities. 

Mid-Autumn Lanterns (Ting W. Chang, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)
Mid-Autumn Festival in Beijing (Photo from Shizhao of Wikimedia Commons)

But the baking, giving, and consuming of Mooncakes is practiced by everyone!!!

And just what are Mooncakes?

Ahh, mooncakes are special!!!  Remember, this festival is all about the harvest, the big and beautiful autumnal moon, and the gathering of family and friends. 

Mooncakes are made and shared as part of the celebration.  A thick, rich filing (usually made from red bean paste or lotus seed paste is surrounded by a thin crust.  Often, the mooncake center may contain salted duck egg yolk symbolizing the moon.  Traditional mooncakes are imprinted with Chinese characters expressing good wishes along with the name of the bakery and the filling inside. 

       

A Mooncake (Lybil BER, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)
Mooncakes with Chinese characters 金門旦黃 (jinmen danhuang), meaning the moon cake contains a single egg yolk and is made from a bakery named “Golden Gate”. Mooncakes usually have the bakery name pressed on them. (misbehave, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0
Mooncake with lotus seed paste. (Fanny Schertzer, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)
Cut mooncake showing lotus seed paste filling around the (crumbled) egg yolk “moon.” (avlxyz, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 generic)

So why are we telling you all this?

Well because, although we have not been to China since March 2017, yesterday a taste of China came to us!!!  While enjoying drinks and nibbles at a neighbor’s home, we were introduced to their friend visiting from out of town.  As he was originally from China, he came prepared to “gift” with mooncakes!!!  We’d like to share some photos:

The beautiful mooncake that came home with us.
Our mooncake had two duck egg yolks in the center.
Because these are calorie intensive, almost 1000 calories each, we wound up cutting ours into several smaller wedges!!!
I’m not too sure these are meant to be consumed for breakfast!!! But we each had a wedge and savored the sweet, rich flavor. And hey, with eggs in the center–it was a protein rich breakfast treat!!!

Thank You, Tao!!!

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