Do you want to know more about the Mid-Autumn festival? Here is everything you need to know about celebrating the Mooncake Festival in 2021.
The Mooncake Festival is coming soon! And although people bake these tasty treats right here on Earth, they’re out-of-this-world delicious.
What’s the reason for this festival? It’s based on the events in the life of a princess from the moon. Chang E (not to be confused with China’s moon lander or Japan’s moon princess, Kaguya) was such an important figure for thousands of years she even contended with Emperors.
But we know what you’re thinking: What is the Mooncake Festival? When is the Mooncake Festival? And why is Chang E so interesting, anyway?
Keep reading to find out all these fascinating answers and more!
What Is the Mooncake Festival?
The Mooncake Festival celebration is also more commonly known by another name — the Mid-Autumn Festival. It’s sometimes also called the “Happy Mooncake Festival.”
Whatever you want to call the festival, it goes back more than 3,000 years. This makes it one of the oldest continuously celebrated traditions on the planet!
Some of the other oldest traditions are also found in Chinese culture. For example, there’s Chinese New Year, which starts on the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar. It changes every year but has been going on for 4,000 years.
Another long-running festival goes all the way back to the Warring States period, during the Zhou dynasty. It goes at least as far back as 2,250 years ago, centered around a patriotic court official.
The story of the Mooncake Festival is centered around Chang E.
Chang E was an exceptionally beautiful young girl who worked for the Jade Emperor in his heavenly palace. At some point, she accidentally broke a porcelain jar that was precious to the Emperor.
She was banished to live on earth, away from heaven, as a mortal. She was only able to return to heaven if she was able to do some heroic and good deed to earn it. This would be tough, though, as she was turned into a mortal in a poor family of farmers.
She met an archer called Hou Yi at the age of 18, and the two became good friends. Hou Yi became a hero by shooting down nine of the ten suns that rose one day to threaten the world. After becoming king, Hou Yi married Chang E, but shortly thereafter he became an evil ruler.
He ordered the preparation of a life-extending elixir, which Chang E stole and swallowed for herself. In the process of trying to escape her enraged husband, she leaped from a window and floated toward the moon. Hou Yi was angered and tried to shoot her down, but failed.
As she reached the moon, she was cursed and transformed into a frog. To keep her company, there’s a rabbit who is always trying to make an elixir of immortality for her. There’s also a woodcutter who tries to cut down the cassia tree, to no avail.
Hou Yi, on the other hand, went and built himself a palace on the sun.
This couple has come to be a symbol of opposites: true yin and yang. In a way, it’s similar to the sun and the moon. Talk about a hot mess — get this marriage into couple’s therapy ASAP!
When Is the Mooncake Festival?
Like these other traditions, the Mooncake Festival is also (unsurprisingly) on a lunar calendar schedule. To celebrate the Mooncake festival in 2021, you’ll need to take note of the date: Tuesday, September 21.
It’s a celebration that occurs for three days.
If you’re in Japan, a similar festival is Tsukimi, or Chuseok in Korea. In Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand, it is sometimes called Ashvini or Krittika. Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore all hold the festival dear to their hearts as well.
The dates for the Mooncake Festival are in the eighth month of the Han Calendar (Bayue) on the 15th day of the month. It corresponds with the Autumnal Equinox between September 8 and October 7 in the modern calendar.
What Happens During the Mooncake Festival Celebration?
During the Mooncake festival, there are many long-standing ceremonies. The most well-known are:
- Dragon and lion dances performed in southern China
- Burning incense to deities, which includes Chang E as the Moon Goddess or Moon Princess
- Games like shang tiantang, luo huayuan, jiangbaxian, and guanxiamo
Of course, the most famous of the celebrations is the mighty Mooncake itself.
What Are Mooncakes?
Mooncakes are a delectable pastry dessert that usually has a crust made with lard or vegetable oil. The filling is often lotus seed paste or red bean, but it could be a number of other things.
The top five Mooncakes are:
- Snow Skin Mooncakes
- White Lotus Mooncake
- Red Bean Mooncake
- Salted Egg Yolk
- Minced Pork Mooncake
One of the best places to get Mooncakes is the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. Their specialty is the “Snow Skin Mooncake with Champagne Truffle and Ganache.” While only a mouthful, these desserts are a staple that you’ll go back to again and again.
Raffles also has many other gourmet recipes for Mooncakes, but their snow skin version is one you’ll never be able to forget. Made with a shell of white chocolate, you’ll melt into the soft ganache in the center as much as it will melt into you!
The Next Phase: Mooncake Festival 2021
If you’re planning on making or buying Mooncakes or getting into the festive spirit, plan early. Look up what events are happening nearby that you can take part in the festivities this year.
We promise that Mooncakes, whether salty, sweet, or savory, will always hit the right spot.
The festival isn’t all about food, though. It’s a chance for families to remember morals and Chinese cultural heritage together. So remember: Don’t steal and don’t be a despot! Most of all, don’t break the Jade Emperor’s porcelain jars!
Also, remember to check out our other amazing articles at Foodporn. Don’t miss out on tasty recipes, the best wine recommendations, and more!