Hey everyone! As we’re starting to see some of the characteristics of fall, it’s also almost time for Mid-Autumn Festival 2021! Or otherwise known as the Mooncake Festival!
And if you haven’t heard of mooncakes before, you’re missing out on some delicious sweet treats!
My family celebrates this event every year. And this year the date is on Sept. 21st, 2021!
It’s a time for family to gather around, enjoy some treats while also admiring the moon. But since we’re still in the middle of Covid, I hope you can still enjoy mooncakes even without your family members.
While still thinking of them.
Here’s some cultural context. Hopefully you can show off this knowledge to some of your friends!
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Origin of Mid-Autumn Festival
Traditionally, this festival was a time to give thanks to the gods. As the date that the event falls on happens to mark the end of the autumn harvest.
But it’s also around the time of the year when the moon is at its brightest.
So some legends were also attached to this event. Ever heard of Chang’e, the moon goddess in Chinese folklore?
There’s a few different variations of this moon goddess’ backstory.
In one of the variations, Chang’e was a beautiful woman with a kind heart. And she was married to someone named Hou Yi, who was an archer.
They lived during a time where there were 10 suns, causing crops to dry out and die. So people were starving.
So Hou Yi shot nine out of the 10 suns and left the remaining one.
The Queen of Heaven heard about his heroic feat and granted him an elixir of life for his contribution. Whoever drinks this elixir will become an immortal and go to heaven.
But Hou Yi was unwilling to drink this elixir and leave his wife to go to heaven.
And Hou Yi had a disciple who was eying this elixir when he was out and about. This disciple tried to take it for himself but Chang’e stopped him from doing so by drinking it herself.
Causing her to float in the air and ascend to the heavens as an immortal.
She didn’t want to live too far away from her husband so she flew to the moon instead. (I think heaven on earth would be closer than the moon?)
Hou Yi was heart-broken when he heard about what happened to his wife.
During a full moon, he caught sight of his wife and made her favorite food.
So since then, mooncakes have been synonymous with worshipping the moon. And the goddess, Chang’e.
It’s also a time to reminisce about family and loved ones.
While gazing at the moon.
Now about the food! If you haven’t seen what mooncakes look like, here’s a picture.
Inside mooncakes are usually salted egg yolks. Surrounded by sweat lotus seed flavored paste or even red bean paste.
And on the very outside is soft dough usually made from cake flour.
Or another type of flour that has enough gluten to form the dough but not harden this soft pastry.
You can tell how soft the pastry when you bite into it.
Most folks purchase mooncakes from various asian supermarkets to gift to their families and friends. They usually come in some sort of tin container.
That looks like this.
In California, there’s Ranch 99, Marina, Lion Market and various other asian supermarkets that sell mooncakes. But if you’re not located near any of these supermarkets, you could purchase them online too.
Like from this asian online supermarket store.
And if you’re not fond of the traditional lotus seed paste with salty egg yolk, there’s other options too!
Like fruity flavored mooncakes.
That kind of remind me of mochi. ^^
Other Ways to Celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival
If you’re more of a hands-on person, you could try making mooncakes yourself!
There are various mooncake molds you could use.
Like this one, which looks like the picture below.
Or light up paper lanterns! Like the people in historical China used to do. If you’re a big fan of Story of Minglan then that’s how folks back then would have celebrated with.
The most important thing is to have FUN and be safe. Especially during these times. If you rather stay at home to eat some mooncakes while just gazing at the moon.
That’s fine too.
Happy early Mid-Autumn Festival 2021! Or Zhong Qiu Jie Quai Le (Happy Mid-Autumn Festival)!
How are you planning on celebrating? If you didn’t know about this event, what do you think of it?
And if you love eating mooncakes, what’s YOUR favorite flavor?
Leave a comment below!