Mid Autumn Festival

10 September, 2022 

The Asian Mid-Autumn Festival: What it is and How it is Celebrated

The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival or the Moon Cake Festival, is the most important festival after the Chinese New Year. Celebrated in China and other Asian countries, it’s more than 3,000 years old and dates back to when the Chinese emperors worshipped the moon, praying for a bountiful harvest. It’s celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese lunisolar calendar, provided there is a full moon. This coincides with mid-September to early October of the Gregorian calendar.

There are three basic concepts to the festival that are closely connected: gathering, giving thanks for the harvest, and praying for a good future.

One of the most important parts of the celebration is the crafting and lighting of colorful paper lanterns. Making them in a variety of colors and forms is frequently a pleasant activity for kids. The lanterns, which are either carried around, hung on trees, or released into the air, are the festival's symbol.

Another custom is to decorate lanterns with well wishes or cover them in riddles that friends and family must figure out.

Family Reunions
The moon's roundness symbolizes a family reunion. On the evening of the festival, families will get together to have dinner. A few days Moon festival allows family members who live in other locations to get to their family home. 

Moon Cake - A Symbol Of Reunion
Like lanterns, moon cakes are a symbol of the Mid-Autumn Festival. They are given as gifts, and shared among family and friends during the celebration. Moon cakes are round (like the full moon, which is at the center of everything during the festival), but can also come in a square shape. The thick, sweet filling can be made of red bean, or mung bean paste or lotus seeds, sometimes surrounding the salted egg yolk.

Discover the flavors of moon cakes across Asian countries

Moon cake is originated in China, according to some Chinese historical records, the cake appeared during the peasant uprisings of the Yuan Dynasty. To spread the secret, people thought of a way to make round cakes and put secret letters in the cake.

The rebellion occurred right before or on August's full moon day, which is how the moon cake legend began and how the cake has since grown in popularity throughout the world.

Moon Cake - Vietnam

  • Baked Moon cake

Traditionally baked moon cakes have two familiar shapes: round and square. The crust is made from flour, syrup and cooking oil. The filling of the cake is made from mung beans, taro, and lotus seeds,... and the most popular is the moon cake with a mixture of pumpkin jam, melon seeds, sausages, salted duck eggs, etc.

Complete numerous steps to create, the baked moon cake symbolizes the fact that no matter what challenges and sorrows we face, our families will always be there to care for us and bring serenity.

The syrup that is brushed on before baking gives baked moon cakes its lovely golden brown coating. Flavored with flour, the inside layer might be sweet from beans, or taro,... or it can be savory.

Sticky Rice Moon cake 

Different from baked moon cake, it is impossible to determine where the sticky rice moon cake comes from, it is only known that it is an indispensable specialty in every August full moon occasion of Vietnam.

The glutinous moon cake is often round, white to represent the full moon, and symbolizes family and reunions. It also conveys good wishes for the harvest season for farmers.

The sticky rice moon cake is made from cooked glutinous rice flour, syrup, and grapefruit flower extract. The filling of sticky rice moon cake can be variety from sweet to savory, like baked moon cakes.

Yuebing (Baked Moon cake) - China

The Chinese mooncakes are called Yuebing, which means "moon cake". Traditional Yuebing cake has a round shape, the surface is usually printed with Chinese characters, meaning to wish all good things for the reunion.

Yuebing cakes have many different fillings such as green beans, red beans, green tea, taro, and salted eggs,... depending on the region, the cake will have many different shapes and characteristics.

Cakes in Beijing will have a fine layer of dough and filled with mountain hawthorn or wisteria flowers , while Shanghai and Suzhou cakes will have a thin crust filled with pork and sprinkle some roasted sesame on top.

Although there may be different fillings, Yuebing cakes are always served with tea and are often given to each other during the Mid-Autumn Festival in this country.

Tsukimi Dango - Japan
There is a tradition about Tsukimi Dango cake that is told that: on the full moon day of August, the Jade Emperor went down to earth and met a white rabbit, the Jade Emperor tried to ask for food, but because the rabbit had nothing to give him, so the rabbit jumped into the fire to make food for the Jade Emperor.

Too touched, the Jade Emperor brought the rabbit with him to the moon and called it the jade rabbit, since then on the full moon day of August, the jade rabbit will pound Tsukimi Dango to give to the people.

Because the tradition has been circulated in the people's culture for so long, for the Japanese, Tsukimi Dango cake carries the belief of a real jade rabbit and living on the moon with the Jade Emperor.

Tsukimi Dango has a chewy crust, made from Shiratama flour mixed with Joushinko flour, with a round white outside shape quite similar to Vietnamese floating cake .

Tsukimi Dango cake is arranged into a tower to worship ancestors on the Mid-Autumn Festival to pray for a bountiful harvest. After offering, bring the cake over to make the crust crispy and hot, sprinkle with sugar honey and serve with beans. red or soybean.

Songpyeon (Crescent Moon Cake) - Korea
Songpyeon cake has a semi-circular shape symbolizing the crescent moon, Koreans believe that the moon is waning and then round, with that concept, Songpyeon cake means that human life has its ups and downs as well as the full moon and waning times.

Songpyeon is popular in Korea during holidays, especially the Mid-Autumn Festival with Korea being a big and special ceremony. Cakes are given to family members or neighbors and friends with an expression of mutual respect.

Songpyeon cake shell is made from glutinous rice flour, molded in a semicircle shape and colored from pumpkin , strawberry , ... and filled with sweet cakes from chestnuts, sesame, honey,... and steamed on top of pine needles.

After steaming, the cake has the aroma from fresh pine needles, that's why the cake is named Songpyeon because the word "Song" in the name means "pine tree". 

Longevity Peach Moon cake - Thailand

Peach-shaped moon cake in Thailand is associated with the legend of 8 immortal gods who visited the Moon Page Palace on the full moon night of August to give Guanyin Bodhisattva a birthday gift of a peach cake.

Since then, every Mid-Autumn Festival, the whole Thai family will gather together to pray to the moon and exchange wishes for peace.

The peach-shaped mooncake has a thin shell, beautifully molded into the shape of a peach, and is filled with sesame seeds, ground lotus seeds, eggs, and is especially popular with durian filling.

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