Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節)

The Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節) also known as Full Moon Festival usually occurs over late September or early October (this year it was September 30). Traditionally, we eat “Moon cakes” and pomelo after a family dinner. Family dinner has evolved into barbeques, allowing you to enjoy the beauty of the full moon while eating a family-orientated meal. The “moon cakes” are something quite special. My favourite flavour is made of a sweet lotus paste, salted pickled duck egg yolk (symbolising the full moon) and a light pastry on the outside. These guys symoblise harmony, family reunion, and good fortune.

This picture was taken from here.

Last night, my cousin (Christine), my brother (Frank) and I celebrated this festival with our loved ones at one of our favourite Chinese restaurants, Heng Sheng. We stuffed ourselves with dumplings, glutinous rice cakes, won ton noodle soup, then finishing it all off with a moon cake.

The story behind the Mid-Autumn Festival is quite a romantic one. And the moon plays a very important role. Check out a nice write up on the story taken from here:

Legend


The story of Chang E is the most widely accepted tale regarding the origins of the Mid-Autumn Festival. It is said that in ancient times, ten suns existed and the extreme heat made people’s lives very difficult. It was the hero Hou Yi who, owing to his great strength, shot down the nine of the ten suns. On hearing of this amazing feat and the hero who performed it, people came from far and wide to learn from him. Peng Meng was among these people. Later, Hou Yi married a beautiful and kind woman named Chang E and lived a happy life.

One day, Hou Yi came upon Wangmu (the queen of heaven) on the way to meet his old friend. Wangmu presented him an elixir which, if drunk, would cause him to ascend immediately to heaven and become an immortal. Instead of drinking the potion himself, Hou Yi took it home and presented it to Chang E to keep. Unfortunately, Peng Meng secretly saw Hou Yi give the potion to his wife and three days later, while Hou Yi was out hunting, Peng Meng rushed into the backyard and demanded that Chang E hand over the elixir. Knowing that she could not win, she took out the elixir and swallowed it immediately. The moment she drank it, she flew out of the window and up into the sky. Chang E’s great love for her husband drew her towards the Moon, which is the nearest heavenly body to the earth.

On realising what happened to his wife, Hou Yi was so grief stricken that he shouted Chang E’ s name to the sky. He was amazed to see a figure which looked just like his wife appeared in the Moon. He took the food liked by Chang E to an altar and offered it as a sacrifice for her. Hou Yi’s neighbours also burned incense and prepared food to express their good wishes to the kind Chang E. This became a custom later every year.”

Hope you all enjoyed staring at the Full Moon, as much as I did, last night.

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4 Responses

  1. […] This was originally posted on Butterfingers. […]

  2. Janice Tripepi
    | Reply

    I just LOVE moon cakes! I had my first one years ago in Malaysia! I must go and get some at my local Chinese deli – my favourite is the one with egg in although the plain lotus paste one is also nice and I just love the beautiful tins that they come in! have a great day xxx jan

    • Ming-Cheau
      | Reply

      Thanks for the comment Jan 🙂 Plain moon cakes don’t have the cool “moon” factor – but I guess it’s not too bad. The red bean paste one is a bit too sweet for my liking though. Hope you find some soon!!

  3. […] This was originally posted on Butterfingers. […]

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