03.10.2010 88 °F
The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is a celebration of harvest and abundance. Though dancing, feasting, and moon-gazing are important aspecst of the festival, the sharing and giving of mooncakes is perhaps the most notable practice.
The most common type of mooncake is filled with lotus seed paste, though more contemporary versions may hold icecream, cream cheese, or even ham at their core. Since mooncakes are generally high in calories, some companies have even created fat-free versions of the traditional cake.
In the past, mooncake production could take as long as four weeks, though production is considerably quicker in modern times. It has become increasingly popular to present mooncakes as gifts to relatives and even business clients, sparking a desire for more high-end mooncake variations. On average, a box of four mooncakes may range from 10USD to 50USD, though those sold by prestigious hotels or restaurants exceed this range.
Mooncakes are meant to be cut diagonally, into quarters, and then shared. Many include a salty egg yolk center symbolizing the full moon.
There are many legends surrounding the mooncake's history, though I will describe only two here.
The first folk tale is one rooted in history, during the Yuan Dynasty. According to legend, mooncakes were used by Ming revolutionaries to overthrow their Mongolian rulers. To spread word of their rebellion, special mooncakes were created with secret messages baked within. On the night of the festival, the attack took place and the rebels were victorious.
Another legend, as described by chinavoc.com, says, "Another legend explained the role of the Old Man on the Moon, the Divine Match-maker. The Chinese believed that marriages were made in Heaven but prepared on the moon. The Old Man on the Moon tied the feet of young men and women with red cords for marriage. Thus a maiden made offerings and prayed to him during the Mid-Autumn Festival, hoping that some day she would ride in the red bridal sedan chair."
Jake and I recieved five boxes of mooncake throughout the course of the festival. Needless to say, we have consumed enough mooncake to last us at least until next autumn.
In celebration of the festival, every teacher at our school received a large box stuffed with apples, oranges and grapes. Since there are two of us, we received two of these boxes. Our fridge has been filled with nothing but fruit for weeks.
To our readers, we wish you all a Happy Mid-Autumn!