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Moon cake Festival!

18 Aug

Yes, its that time of the year again! There are few large-scale celebrations in the Chinese culture and the Moon cake or Mid-Autumn Festival is one of them. Starting on the 15th day of the eighth Lunar Moon of the year, the festival coincides with the Autumnal Equinox – when the moon said to be at its fullest and roundest. The festival is heavily associated with the moon, which is a subject seen widely throughout Chinese poetry and song since ancient times. The festival is said to originate from the ancient ceremony of sacrificing to the Moon Goddess.

“When the moon is full, mankind is one”

In China, the full moon has always represented the gathering of family and friends. During the Mid-Autumn festival, families come together often in scenic locations to eat mooncakes and pomelos, and appreciate the moon

The festival dates back over 3000 years and also coincides with the full harvest, where offerings are made to the Earth God in hopes to bring a bigger harvest next year.

According to popular belief, the custom of eating moon cakes began in the late Yuan Dynasty at a time when the Hans where oppressed by their Mongol rulers. The Han revolutionaries planned a revolt to usurp the throne, but had to find a way of alerting the rest of their people without the Mongols finding out. Finally, the advisor to the leader of the revolutionary group, Liu Po-Wen found a solution. The Hans started a rumour that there was a terrible plague washing over the city and the only way to cure the disease was by eating a special moon cake which was distributed only to Hans by the revolutionaries. When the people cut into their cakes, they read a message imprinted inside, alerting them to the date of the revolt. The Hans were then able to rise up in revolt against their oppressors and moon cakes have since become an essential part of the Mid-Autumn festival.

This year, the Moon cake festival falls on the 22nd September.

         Fresh Raw Egg Yolks                       The famous Three Inch Lotus

What are Moon cakes?

Moon cakes are the traditional celebration food eaten amongst family and friends during the festival period. 

Traditional mooncakes have an imprint on the top, showing the Chinese characters for “longevity” or “harmony” as well as the name of the bakery and filling in the moon cake. Imprints of a moon, a woman on the moon, flowers, vines, or a rabbit may surround the characters for additional decoration.

Mooncakes are considered a delicacy; production is labour-intensive and few people make them at home. Most mooncakes are bought at Asian markets and bakeries.

Moon cakes are small, round or rectangle pastries, with a variety of fillings and containing one or more egg yolks in the centre, which symbolises the moon:

Lotus Seed Paste: Considered to be the most original and desired filling, Lotus Seed is highly priced and highly delicious to many. They can also include egg yolks.

Jujube: Also known as Chinese Date, and is a sweet and fruity filling, similar in taste to red bean paste. Jujube also has medicinal purposes and is used to relieve stress and sore throats.

Sweet Bean Paste: Found in many Chinese desserts and are not actually naturally sweet, but flavoured with sugar. Several types can be found in Moon cakes, Mung Bean and Black bean and most commonly Red bean.

Taro Paste: A purple sweet, nutty flavoured paste made from the Taro vegetable, usually used in Teochew crusty moon cakes.

Five Kernel: Consisting of 5 assorted nuts including sesame, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pumpkin and watermelon seeds. Held together with maltose syrup and flavoured with candied winter melon or rock sugar

Durian: Filled with a Durian fruit paste, and most commonly eaten in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.

Ice cream: There are also a wide variety of Ice cream moon cakes with sweet fillings including Mango, Green Tea, Coffee, Chocolate, Durian.