Thursday, September 8

The Mid-Autumn Festival (The Moon Festival)

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

 The Mid-Autumn Festival (Zhongqui Jie), also known as The Moon Festival, or Mooncake Festival, or Lantern Festival, is a popular Asian harvest celebration dating back over 3000 years. It is celebrated from China to Malaysia on the 15th of every 8th month in the Chinese calendar or September/October of the western calendar. It is also the day when the moon is at is fullest and roundest, perfect for moon gazing. The traditional food to eat is for this event is Moon cakes in different varietes. This year,2011, the festival is held Sept. 12, 2011.

In China, the mid-autumn festival is actually a legal holiday and is one of the most important holidays in the country. Everyone gather with families to enjoy the bright moon and eat moon cakes accompanied by lit lanterns. Moon gazing, drinking tea, and BBQ is the main activities during this festival.
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In Vietnam, Mid Autumn Festival is called "Tết Trung Thu" and we will use one of the famous Vietnam folktale for this blog.

Image Coutesy of Jui-Ting Yu
In Vietnam folktale, a woman urinated on a sacred banyan tree and her husband, Cuội, was sent to the moon separating them as a punishment by the sacred banyan tree. Every year, on the mid-autumn festival, children light lanterns and participate in showing Cuội his way back to Earth. The bright lanterns are provide light for his path back to his wife on earth.

Other legends such as the story of the Moon lady  and the Carp who wanted to become a dragon are also told to be the cause of this festival. In China, the famous folktale is the legend of Houyi and Chang'e. No matter, it is known to be a festival to be with family and celebrate the bright moon while eating moon cake.

The traditional food to eat is Moon cake, in every shape and flavor. The moon cake is traditionally base on the shape of the moon symbolizing unity and perfection. Now a days, they come in different shapes, round and square, being the most common. Some countries eat rice cakes or mochi cakes (Glutinous rice soft cake filled with jam or sweet beans).

We will post a recipe on how to make moon cakes soon. Be on the look out for it! Happy Moon Gazing!

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