The Moon Festival also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节 zhōngqiūjié), is a popular celebration of abundance and togetherness, dating back over 3,000 years to China’s Zhou Dynasty. This day is also considered a harvest festival since fruits, vegetables and grain have been harvested by this time and food is abundant.The Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month of the Chinese calendar (usually around mid- or late-September in the Gregorian calendar), a date that parallels the Autumn Equinox of the solar calendar. This is the ideal time, when the moon is at its fullest and brightest, to celebrate the abundance of the summer’s harvest. In 2007, the mid-autumn festival falls on September 25.
In the Chinese lunar calendar tradition, the seventh, eighth and ninth months comprise autumn. During fall, the weather is getting drier, and the skies are commonly clear and cloudless and the nights crisp and sharp. Thus the festival celebrates the moon’s appearance as the brightest and most beautiful throughout the year.
The traditional food of this festival is the mooncake. Mooncakes are typically round, symbolizing the full round moon of the mid-autumn festival. The round mooncakes, measuring about three inches in diameter and one and a half inches in thickness are made with melon seeds, lotus seeds, almonds, minced meats, bean paste, orange peels and lard. A golden yolk from a salted duck egg was placed at the center of each cake, and the golden brown crust was decorated with symbols of the festival. The picture above shows a typical mooncake and its inner and outer packages.
Nowadays there are many different varieties of mooncakes, and there are even square-shaped ones. Last month, a super large mooncake was made in Shenyang, Liaoning, weighing nearly 13 tons. This mooncake is 8.15 meters in diameter and 20 centimeters in height, and has a coating weighing one ton, and filling weighing 12 tons, and took ten chefs more than 10 hours to make it.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the two most important holidays in the Chinese calendar, and the other being the Chinese Lunar New Year.