The Mid-Autumn Festival, celebrated annually on the 15th day of the 8th month in the Chinese lunar calendar, is one of the most important Chinese festivals to date. It commemorates the day on which the mythical hero Houyi shot down nine of the ten suns in order to prevent them from scorching the earth. According to legend, this was done with the help of his wife Chang’e, who drank an elixir that gave her immortality.
Mooncakes are special cakes with a lot of meaning and heritage. They were originally made in the fifth century to celebrate celebrations like birthdays, weddings, and other occasions with family. Over time, they became popular around harvest seasons as an offering to deities. The literal translation of mooncake is tidings of roundness. It’s believed that these cakes have traditionally been used to wish for abundant crops, good health, longevity and happiness. In addition to being a delicacy often eaten during this festival, they are also symbols of goodwill given by people to friends and families.
The history of the Moon Cake
The moon cake was introduced to China by settlers from the Muslim world who were living in China under the Jin dynasty (1115–1234). A legend tells of a lady called Wu Zetian, who established a bakery that baked flour cookies in the shape of deer, birds, and fish. It is believed that this later evolved into the cookie known as a mooncake.
Mooncakes are said to have first been made during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) when they were stuffed with lotus seed paste.
Poems about the moon
The moon is brighter than usual.
I walk through the crowded streets, my thoughts drawn to it. It seems cold and lonely up there in the sky.
Where have you been all these years? Have you ever wondered about us on earth? Tonight, I’ll say a few words for you.
Tea drinking during the Mid-Autumn Festival
Traditionally, tea is brewed and served during a special afternoon tea ceremony that usually takes place on or before the festival. Symbolically, both the tea and mooncakes are offered to one’s family members and friends as expressions of affection. The Mooncake Festival also serves as an occasion for reunion among family members living far away from each other, since mooncakes are often eaten together during feasts with relatives by phone or video chat.
Festival traditions from generation to generation
Now, with each successive generation there is a new tradition. For example, kids today can go for mooncakes in a nearby mall with their parents or enjoy watching TV specials about the festival and eating traditional foods to celebrate. However, this presents its own set of challenges because people are so busy. And now it’s not just that their children will be busy and so won’t be able to visit family on an important day. It’s also that they themselves are busier than they’ve ever been before!
Why do we celebrate on this day?
The ancient festival originated from the moon worship practiced by China’s agricultural society during ancient times. Today, it is recognized as a national holiday in some of China’s provinces or autonomous regions, with an influence even as far as Southeast Asia, South Korea and Japan. It is marked on various days in September or October (traditionally on October 4) of the Gregorian calendar.
What are other festivals in China?
Different from traditional western holidays, Chinese holidays have roots in Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. Some of these festivals include the Mid-Autumn Festival, Lunar New Year’s Day, and The Lantern Festival. In ancient China, lunar years were believed to be more potent than solar years and are usually when all the gods come down to earth for a feast. So for many families, this is a very special day with food, games, mooncakes or lotus lanterns (representing life), gifts, celebration – it’s a time for family bonding.