The origin of Mooncake Festival
The most common origin of the Mooncake Festival comes from the tale of Chang-Er and Hou Yi. It is said that Chang Er swallowed the elixir to avoid the elixir fell into the hand of their nemesis, Peng Meng. She turned into an immortal goddess, flew to the moon and never return. Her husband Hou Yi took Chang Er’s favourite food to an altar and offered to her as a sacrifice. Since then, the people have done the same to pray for good luck and peace. This is where the mooncake originates.
Mooncake Festival in other Asian Countries
This festival is an Asian festival where it is not only celebrated in China. In fact, it is also celebrated in other Asian countries such as Malaysia, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and Thailand.
Malaysia’s Chinese enjoy mooncakes, appreciate the moon and parading with lanterns during Mooncake Festival. There will be selling of old and new brands of mooncake all around the market and advertisements of mooncake on newspaper. In some area, the Chinese will celebrate with lion or dragon dance, fancy car parade and so on.
The Japanese celebrated this festival with the name “Tsukimi”, where they hold a party while appreciating the moon. They celebrated it since around 1000 years ago when the culture was introduced from China into Japan. The custom of appreciating the moon remained in the country even though they do not use the Chinese lunar calendar anymore. The festival food in Japan is glutinous rice cake instead of mooncake.
The local people see Mooncake Festival as a big event, and they named it as “Thanksgiving Day”. They enjoy a 3 days holidays and often visit their ancestral home during the festival. Some of them also send gifts to their relatives and friends. The special food during the festival is muffins.
In Vietnam, the children are the leading roles for this festival, where they named it as “Tet Trung Thu” (children’s festival). During the festival, the adults will enjoy mooncake while the children play with lanterns. The locals also hold lantern competitions or lion dance during the festival.
According to the local legend, the Eight Immortals visit the Moon Palace to send birthday greetings and peach-shaped cakes to Guanyin. Thus, the Thailand families will prepare peach-shaped cakes as offerings to the moon. They worship the moon, pray and exchange greetings with each other.
Popular dishes for Mooncake Festival
During the festival, every home makes delicious food to celebrate it. Varieties of Mooncake Festival food were formed over the centuries. Below are the popular dishes for Mooncake Festival:
It is the most traditional food for the festival. Traditional Mooncakes are Chinese pastries with sweet and dense filling such as lotus seed paste and egg yolk, covered by thin outer skin.
During ancient times, poor families chose to eat pumpkin as they could not afford mooncakes. Eating pumpkin at the night of the festival is believed to bring people good health.
3. River snails
People in Guangzhou have river snails as their festival food. They often cook it with herbs to remove the unpleasant odour of the snails. Eating river snails is believed to brighten the eyes.
In the old days, people believe that eating taro during the festival could avoid bad luck and bring the family good luck and wealth.
5. Wine fermented with Osmanthus flowers
The Chinese drink wine fermented with Osmanthus flowers since 2000 years ago as the festival falls on the blooming season for the flowers.
In East-China’s Fujian province, people cook duck with taro widely planted in the province during the festival. In Jiangsu province, the locals enjoy Osmanthus flower duck while in Sichuan province, the locals have the tradition to have smoked baked duck.
7. Hairy Crab
It is a special dish for Mooncake Festival as the hairy crab season falls within September to October, which is around Mooncake Festival.
More Information About:
- 12 lesser-known facts about Mid-Autumn Festival
- Mid-Autumn Festival Food — 7 Popular Dishes
- Mid-Autumn Festival in Other Asian Countries
Prepared by: Wan Kei