In China and many other east and southeast Asian countries, the Mooncake Festival (also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival) is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese calendar. This year, the date lands on Tuesday 21st September. But what is it exactly and how is it celebrated?
The 8th month in the Chinese lunar calendar is the second (middle) month of the autumn season. Meanwhile, the 15th day of this particular month is when the moon is the most bright and full – what many of us know as the ‘harvest moon’. The ancient Chinese worshipped the autumn moon to thank it for a bountiful harvest and in Chinese culture the full moon symbolises togetherness. Putting these things together, the Mooncake Festival is a time for families to spend time together, to celebrate the harvest offerings and to make wishes for good things to come.
Chinese citizens have a 3-day public holiday each year to celebrate the Mooncake Festival, giving them quality time to get together with loved ones for meals, light paper lanterns to hang on their trees or in their homes, and eat mooncakes. Businesses also celebrate the Mooncake Festival and see it as a reinforcement of commercial partnerships.
Mooncakes are round pastries, made to symbolise the full autumn moon. They’re also associated with Chang’e (嫦娥) – the Chinese goddess of the moon. It’s a festival tradition to give and receive mooncakes as gifts, with a wide variety of flavours on the market. The most traditional mooncake (and most expensive) consists of mixed nuts and seeds and roast pork. Other popular mooncakes contain red bean paste; lotus seed paste; fruit; vegetables; chocolate and green tea.
Will you be celebrating the Mooncake Festival this year? What’s your favourite type of mooncake?