Mooncake festival, also known as Mid-Autumn Festival or Lantern Festival, is a time when children run around with colorful lanterns and families gather for some delicious mooncakes filled with sweet or savory fillings. It is the only time of the year when children enjoy playing colorful lanterns and delicious mooncakes!
A popular Chinese myth related to the Mooncake Festival; Chang Er who lives on the moon. She was very beautiful and people celebrate her beauty during the mooncake festival, when the moon is at its brightest and roundest – on the 15th of eight lunar month.In the past in China, ten suns appeared in the sky and this was causing much unhappiness to the people. Crops were withering, rivers were drying up and people were dying from the heat.This misfortune forced the emperor to call upon Hou Yi, a mythological archer to shoot down the suns in return for an immortal elixir. He wanted to shoot down all the suns but his wife, Chang Er begged him to leave one up in the sky for heat and light. As Hou Yi was about to go against his wife’s wishes, his wife grabbed the immortal elixir and drank it as a form of objection immediately after, Chang Er began floating higher and higher until she reached the moon and lived there.
In the 14th century, the Han Chinese overthrew the Mongols in a carefully planned uprising. The success of this uprising lies in these little moon cakes. Small pastries with a secret message outlining the plan was hidden inside the pastries and distributed. Lantern wielding rebels distributed the pastries at night in a well cloaked wedding celebration. As outlined in the secret message, the Han Chinese executed a surprise attack on the Mongols. The full moon on the Mid Autumn Festival shone brightly on the pathways to guide the rebels through the maze of the palace. Since then, mooncakes and lanterns are used each year to honor the new dynasty and the auspicious moon.
Conventionally, mooncakes are small pastries filled with a sweet paste filling – redbean or lotus seed. But now, we have different recipes in the market that are being invented to provide for the changeable consumer’s taste buds. For example, pandan (screwpine leaf) filling, coconut filling, meat fillings, nut and fruits filling, yam and even durian filling. For those who prefer cold delight, there are also ice-cream moon cakes!
Normally, the most popular form of mooncakes consumed is the one with egg yolks. The yolks in the mooncake represent the full moon during the celebration. Although some people would neglect health and consume mooncakes filled with high-sugar ingredients, but many health conscious consumers rather go for the less-sugar types of mooncakes.
Here are some pictures of traditional methods of making mooncakes.