Moon Festival: A Chinese Tradition
By Arianna Anderson
The Chinese recently celebrated the highly regarded Moon Festival, also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival. The moon festival celebrates the full moon, taking place on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar, usually falling in either September or October. This year, the special day was on September 15th.
The Moon Festival is the second most important holiday, the Chinese New Year being the first. This holiday has been celebrated for over 3,000 years, and annual festivities include having dinner with the entire family, flying lanterns, worshipping the moon and of course eating mooncakes. Mooncakes are one of the best things about this festival. Mooncakes are given as gifts and, when the whole family is together to celebrate, mooncakes are a significant part of the meal. Different parts of China are known for different types of mooncakes.
Here are some of the most common flavors:
- Five Kernel and Roast Pork
- Common among elders but loved by all, these mooncakes are filled with almonds, walnuts, dried winter-melon, sesame, pumpkin seeds, and roast pork.
- Red Bean Paste
- Red bean is common for most of Chinese cuisine, but this paste is sweet! Sometimes, mooncakes filled with sweet paste (like red bean) can also have a salty, dried duck egg yolk, which helps counteract the sweetness.
- Lotus Seed Paste
- Similar to red bean mooncakes, these can also be filled with egg yolks since lotus paste can be expensive. This sweet paste has a Cantonese origin, and is sometimes mixed with white kidney bean paste.
- Snow-skin mooncakes are interesting because they do not need to be baked, unlike the other types of mooncake. They originally came from Hong Kong, but are now popular in China as well. The “skin” is made from sticky rice flour, among other types of flours, and the fillings can sweet or savory (these are especially good when filled with red bean!)
- Some flavors are influenced by western countries!
- Green Tea
- Ice Cream
Next year, the Moon Festival takes place on October 4th, and eating mooncakes in celebration is a must! Go to any Chinese grocery store, and they should sell mooncakes. If you’re interested in making your own, check out this videos which will teach you how to make mooncakes!