There were no sales or picnics or last pool parties. Labor day was just another day on the calendar. But Mid-Autumn festival is here and it is a big deal. Monday everything shuts down. The kids and Hubby have the day off. Everyone is supposed to go visit family and have a harvest feast. Since you all are my family and are a little too far to stop over for a cup of tea and a moon cake, I thought we could have a little virtual party.
I will play the role of the crazy aunt who has had a little too much plum wine and I will plant big virtual kisses on all your cheeks 🙂 And then I will sit you down and tell you the legend of the Harvest Moon, even if you have already heard it a thousand times.
“Mid-Autumn Festival, also called Zhong Qiu Jie in Chinese. This is pronounced roughly as zshong chiough jieh. It is one of China‘s most important holidays. The moon is supposed to be the brightest and roundest of the year, and traditionally families would gather and share the fruit of the year’s harvest. In modern times, the day is celebrated with a big feast, often at a restaurant.”
“There are a number of legends about how the holiday came to be, and how moon cakes developed. Some are related to gods and goddesses, but a lesser known tale recounts the overthrow of the Yuan Dynasty. Though it has little historic backing, it’s a good story: Group gatherings were banned, it was impossible to make plans for a rebellion. A clever man named Liu Bowen remembered that Mongols did not celebrate the moon festival and did not eat moon cakes. He sought permission to distribute thousands of moon cakes the the Chinese residents in the city to “bless the longevity of the Mongol emperor.” Inside each cake, however, was inserted a piece of paper with the message “kill the mongols on the 15th day of the 8th month!” On the night of the Moon Festival, the rebels successfully attacked and overthrew the government. What followed was the establishment of the Ming Dynasty (1344-1644). Hence forth the Mid-Autumn Festival has been celebrated with moon cakes on a national level.”
Now isn’t that a lovely, warm fuzzy story to tell the kiddies? luckily the moon cakes are really good and the kids like having the day off. The cakes really are a big deal and have been everywhere since we got here at the end of August. The crust of the cakes is like a pie crust. The top is stamped with a decoration and some writing that I can only assume tells you what is inside. Maybe by the next Mid-Autumn Festival I will be able to read what they say! The filling seems to be a fig newtonish substance mixed with a variety of other things like fruit or nuts. They are not really sweet but are good with tea. You can get them individually wrapped in a variety of flavors, or you can get fresh baked ones at the bakery counter. Most popular seems to be gift boxes that you bring to whomever you are visiting on Sept. 12. The gift boxes range from four cake tins or decorative cardboard boxes to very fancy cloth covered presentation boxes. Daughter and Son even made some in their Chinese class in school which were very yummy.