What is a mooncake and why is it important in China?

moon-cake_platter

The Mid-Autumn Festival (Zhongqiujie) is an important holiday on the Chinese lunar calendar, held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Han calendar – essentially the night of a full moon. It is the second most important (traditional) Chinese Festival after Chinese New Year.

What is the Mid-Autumn Festival?

To the Chinese, the Mid-Autumn festival means family reunion and peace. The festival is celebrated when the moon is believed to be the biggest and fullest. A full moon is a symbol of prosperity, happiness, and family reunion.

It has a history of over 3,000 years, dating back to moon worship in the Shang Dynasty (1600–1046 BC). It’s such an important festival that many poems were written about it, stories and legends about the festival are widespread, and its origins have been guessed at and explained by generations of Chinese.

How is it celebrated?

Many traditional and meaningful celebrations are held in most households in China, and China’s neighbouring countries.

chinese-lanternsThe main traditions and celebrations include eating mooncakes, having dinner with family, gazing at and worshipping the moon, and lighting lanterns.

What is a mooncake?

A mooncake or yuè bĭng  is a Chinese bakery product traditionally regarded as an indispensable delicacy.

moon-cake

Typical mooncakes are round pastries, measuring about 10 cm in diameter and 3–4 cm thick. A rich thick filling usually made from red bean or lotus seed paste is surrounded by a thin (2–3 mm) crust and may contain yolks from salted duck eggs.

Mooncakes are offered between friends or on family gatherings while celebrating the festival and are usually eaten in small wedges accompanied by tea.

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! 中秋快乐!

Zhōngqiū kuàilè!

This year Mid-Autumn festival was celebrated on September 15th, 2016, which is a Thursday and public holiday in China. Unlike the Aussie four day weekend, Sunday has been substituted as a work day so Chinese can enjoy a three-day break with their families. Next year it will be on Wednesday October 4th, 2017.