Happy Mid Autumn Festival! Eat Moon Cakes. Gaze at the Moon Tonight

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! 

Oriental homes in Asia will be illuminated by dazzling lanterns once again as we celebrate this year's Moon Festival. Let's feast on moon cakes while gazing at the harvest moon tonight!

The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival, falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month in the Chinese lunar calendar when the moon is at its fullest and brightest. The date corresponds to mid-September to early October of the Gregorian calendar. In 2023, it falls on September 29.

In most Asian countries, lanterns of all sizes and shapes are carried and displayed as symbolic beacons that light people's path to prosperity and good fortune. 

“May we live long and share the beauty of the moon together, even if we are hundreds of miles apart.” 

This line from a famous Song dynasty poem written by Su Shi, better known as Su Dongpo, perhaps best captures the spirit of the Mid-Autumn Festival, an age-old event with roots in both Chinese and Vietnamese cultures.

In China, the Mid-Autumn or Moon Festival is the second most important holiday celebration in the country after the Chinese Lunar New Year. It is usually celebrated for eight days with great festivities.

The Legend

The festival is rooted in legends and myths, but the most widely accepted tale about the legend of the Moon Festival seems to be the story of the goddess Chang'E who inhabits the moon. This myth is said to have originated from storytellers in the Tang dynasty (618–907 CE).

Chinese legend claims that Chang'E was born as a mortal who became the wife of the famed archer Hou Yi. Back then the earth had 10 suns which ravaged the world with extreme drought. 

At the request of the Emperor of Heaven, Hou Yi saved the earth from burning to a crisp by shooting down nine out of 10 suns. As a reward, Hou Yi was given the elixir of immortality, which he hid in his home, planning to share it with his beautiful wife, Chang’e. 

But while Hou Yi was away hunting his wicked apprentice, Feng Meng, came to his home to steal the elixir. Chang’e, determined to keep it out of Feng’s hands, drank the potion and ascended to the heavens, where she took the moon as her home.

C-Drama Stars eat moon cakes

As eating moon cakes has been significantly associated with Mid-Autumn Festival, here are some drama stars from mainland China who posted photos today with their moon cakes. 

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival 2023
Timmy Xu

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival 2023
Joseph Zeng 

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival 2023
Ren Min

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival 2023
Wu Lei

Food during the Mid-Autumn Festival

Today, the Mid-Autumn or Moon Festival is a joyous celebration with family reunions, mooncakes, parades, and lanterns. Much of the contemporary interest in the Mid-Autumn Festival revolves around the famous mooncake. 

The quintessential delicacy of the festival, mooncakes are a dense pastry made of lotus seed paste and salted duck egg yolk. There are thousands of regional and contemporary variations, and nowadays one can find ostentatious confections flavored with everything from coffee to champagne and truffles.

They're also full of meaning. The round shape not only symbolizes the moon but also completeness, unity, fulfillment, and perfection. To emphasize the roundness and stand for the phases of the moon, sometimes one or more salted duck egg yolks are wedged in. Modern flavors include green tea, taro, durian, pineapple, chocolate, tiramisu, and cream cheese.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is also a popular observance in many other Asian countries such as Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines but with different names. 

Family reunion scene in Falling In Love starring Zhou Ye and Lin Yi. One of the traditions associated to the Mid-Autumn Festival 

The festival date in these countries is the same as in China. This year, the celebration began on September 29 and will last on October 6. 

In South Korea, the festival is also known as 'Autumn Eve' and a 3-day holiday is enjoyed from September 28th to 30th.

Moon cakes are customarily given as gifts during the Mid-Autumn Festival. On the day of the festival. Gifting on the day itself is also acceptable, especially if you are celebrating the festival together with friends or family.

Moon cakes, a rich pastry typically filled with sweet bean, egg yolk, meat, or lotus seed paste, are traditionally eaten during this celebration. 

Apart from eating moon cakes, two traditions that strongly associated to the Mid-Autumn Festival are family reunions and moon viewing. 

Li Changge (Dilraba Dilmurat) and Ashile Sun (Wu Lei) had a moon viewing scene in The Long Ballad 

This festival is particularly significant to people who are away from their families. As the saying goes, "Despite the distance, in space and time, always remember we are looking at the same moon under the same sky".

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! May the round moon bring you a happy family and a successful future.

Here are some Chinese historical dramas you can re-watch to feel the spirit of the Moon Festival:

  • Chang'E (2010)
  • The Long Ballad (2021)
  • An Ancient Love Song (2023)

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