Mid Autumn Festival / Mooncake Festival / Chinese Lantern Festival
Mid Autumn Festival (also known as Mooncake Festival or Chinese Lantern Festival) dates back over 3,000 years to moon worship in China’s Shang Dynasty. It was first called Zhongqiu Jie (literally “Mid-Autumn Festival”) in the Zhou Dynasty. In Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines, it is also sometimes referred to as the Lantern Festival or Mooncake Festival. The traditional food of this festival is the mooncake, of which there are many different varieties across different countries.
When Is Mid Autumn Festival / Mooncake Festival / Chinese Lantern Festival
The Mid-Autumn Festival is held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese lunar calendar, which usually falls around late September or early October.
Date of Mid Autumn Festival 2012/ Mooncake Festival 2012/ Chinese Lantern Festival 2012
When is Mid Autumn Festival 2012/ Mooncake Festival 2012/ Chinese Lantern Festival 2012?
The Mid-Autumn Mooncake Festival 2012 falls on Sunday, 30 September 2012. Please note that in Hong Kong, the official holiday date is the day after the festival, thus in 2012, the official holiday for mooncake festival in Hong Kong is on Monday, 1 October 2012.
Date of Mid Autumn Festival 2011/ Mooncake Festival 2011/ Chinese Lantern Festival 2011
When is Mid Autumn Festival 2011/ Mooncake Festival 2011/ Chinese Lantern Festival 2011?
The Mid-Autumn Mooncake Festival 2011 falls on Monday, 12 September 2011. Please note that in Hong Kong, the official holiday date is the day after the festival, thus in 2011, the official holiday for mooncake festival in Hong Kong is on Tuesday, 13 September 2011.
Mid-Autumn / Lantern Festival Mooncake
Mooncakes are Chinese pastries traditionally eaten during the Lantern Festival. They are round or rectangular pastries, measuring about 10 cm in diameter and 4-5 cm thick. Mooncakes are usually eaten in small wedges accompanied by Chinese tea.
Most mooncakes consist of a thin tender skin enveloping a sweet, dense filling. The mooncake may contain one or more whole salted egg yolks in its center to symbolize the full moon. Very rarely, mooncakes are also served steamed or fried. A thick filling usually made from lotus seed paste is surrounded by a relatively thin (2-3 mm) crust and may contain yolks from salted duck eggs.
Traditional mooncakes have an imprint on top consisting of the Chinese characters for “longevity” or “harmony” as well as the name of the bakery and the filling in the moon cake. Imprints of the moon, the Chang’e woman on the moon, flowers, vines, or a rabbit (symbol of the moon) may surround the characters for additional decoration.
Mooncakes are considered a delicacy; production is labor-intensive and few people make them at home. Most mooncakes are bought at markets and bakeries.
Moon Festival Around The World
The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, Zhongqiu Festival, or in Chinese, Zhongqiujie (中秋節), is a popular harvest festival celebrated by Chinese and Chinese descendants around the world. It is a legal holiday in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau. The Moon Festival is also a widely celebrated festival in Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Vietnam, Japan and Indonesia.
Zhong Qiu Jie / Mid-Autumn Festival In Hong Kong
In Hong Kong, the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the most charming and colourful annual events that celebrates, among other things, harvest time with the biggest and brightest moon of the year.
On this festival, parents allow children to stay up late and take them to high vantage points such as The Peak to light their lanterns and watch the huge autumn moon rise while eating their moon cakes. Public parks are ablaze with many thousands of lanterns in all colours, sizes and shapes. There are lantern carnivals and lantern exhibitions over Hong Kong every year.
For the three nights straddling the Mid-Autumn festival, visitors can also see one of the most spectacular sights imaginable. It’s a 67-metre-long ‘fire dragon’ that winds its way with much fanfare and smoke through a collection of streets located in Tai Hang, close to Victoria Park in Causeway Bay.
Over a century ago, Tai Hang was a coastal village whose inhabitants lived off farming and fishing. A few days before the Mid-Autumn Festival a typhoon and then a plague wreaked havoc on the village. While the villagers were repairing the damage, a python entered the village and ate their livestock. According to some villagers, the python was the son of the Dragon King.
A soothsayer decreed the only way to stop the chaos was to stage a fire dance for three days and nights during the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival. The villagers made a huge dragon of straw and covered it with incense sticks, which they then lit. Accompanied by drummers and erupting firecrackers, they danced for three days and three nights ? and the plague disappeared.
Zhong Qiu Jie / Mid-Autumn Festival In China
Chinese have long linked the ups and down of life to the changes of the moon. As the full moon is round (轮 – yuan), and symbolize reunion (圆 – yuan), it is also known as the Festival of Reunion in China. All family members try to get together on this special day. Those who can not return home watch the bright moonlight and feel deep longing for their loved ones.
In China, Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the major holiday, with many festival activities and special public performances. After a reunion dinner, families will go together to scenic spots and parks for moon appreciation parties, eating mooncakes and pomeloes in the cool night air and praying for a safe year.
Different parts of China each has different ways to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival. In some places people make fires inside a towers to celebrate the festival, because they think the fire is a symbol of good business. In the Zhejiang Province, watching the flood tide of the Qian-tang River during the Mid-Autumn Festival is not only a must for local peple, but also an attraction for those from other parts of the country.
In Nanjing, people cook duck with sweet-scented osmanthus, because Nanjing people think sweet-scented osmanthus is a symbol of peace. In Guangzhou, a huge lantern show is a big attraction for locals and visitors. Thousands of differently shaped lanterns are lit, forming a fantastic contrast with the bright moonlight. In Chaozhou, Guangdong Province, people eat taro to celebrate the festival, because the taro harvest occurs at the same time as the festival. They eat taro and hope the harvest is good in the next year.
Tuan Yuan Jie / Reunion Festival in Taiwan
In Taiwan, the Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated though out the country. However, unlike mid-autumn festivals in other countries, in Taiwan the food most synonymous with the festival is barbecue instead of mooncake. Asking Taiwanese people what they plan to do on Mid-Autumn Festival, the most likely answer is barbecue.
A national holiday in Taiwan, this festival is a time of family gatherings, thus called also as Reunion Festival / Tuan Yuan Jie (团圆節) / . Aside from barbeque, pomelos are eaten, as are moon cakes, whose roundness symbolizes unity. Traditionally a family event, Mid-Autumn Festival cookouts are very boisterous affairs, and Taiwan?s friendly people often invite passers-by to join in the fun.
Among the various activities on the Festival, Shang Yue (Full Moon Admiring, 賞月) or the moon gazing is also one of the most popular.
Tết Trung Thu / Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam
The “Tết Trung Thu” or Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnamese recounts the legend of Cuội, whose wife accidentally urinated on a sacred banyan tree, taking him with it to the Moon. Every year, on the mid-autumn festival, children light lanterns and participate in a procession to show Cuội the way to Earth.
In Vietnam, Mooncakes are typically square rather than round, though round ones do exist. Besides the indigenous tale of the banyan tree, other legends are widely told including the story of the Moon Lady, and the story of the carp who wanted to become a dragon.
In a Vietnamese folklore, parents were working so hard to prepare for the harvest that they left the children playing by themselves. To make up for lost time, parents would use the Mid-Autumn festival as an opportunity to show their love and appreciation for their children. Appropriately, the Mid-Autumn Festival is also called the Children?s Festival.
One important event before and during Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival are lion dances. The dances are performed by both non-professional children group and trained professional groups. Lion dance groups perform on the streets go to houses asking for permission to perform for them. If accepted by the host, “the lion” will come in and start dancing as a wish of luck and fortune and the host gives back lucky money to show thankfulness.
Tsukimi / Moon-Viewing Festival in Japan
Tsukimi (月見) or Otsukimi, literally moon-viewing, refers to Japanese festivals honoring the autumn moon. Tsukimi traditions include displaying decorations made from Japanese pampas grass (susuki) and eating rice dumplings called Tsukimi dango in order to celebrate the beauty of the moon.
Seasonal produce are also displayed as offerings to the moon. Sweet potatoes are offered to the full moon, while beans or chestnuts are offered to the waxing moon the following month. The alternate names of the celebrations, Imomeigetsu (literally “potato harvest moon”) and Mamemeigetsu (“bean harvest moon”) or Kurimeigetsu (“chestnut harvest moon”) are derived from these offerings.
Mooncake Festival in Singapore
In Singapore, celebrations of the Mooncake festival is concentrated on the Chinatown Mid-Autumn Festival. From September to October, Chinatown?the beating heart of the Chinese in Singapore?is transformed into an extravaganza of shimmering lights, themed lanterns, street bazaars, and stage shows, all to pay homage to a festival that reaches back into the very roots of Chinese culture.
Visitors can join the rest of Singapore in witnessing the official light-up and opening ceremony. Chinatown will be enhanced with radiant festive lights and glimmering lanterns lining the streets, a display that will continue for weeks. You can also pick up a lantern for yourself at the street bazaar ?ranging from the traditional paper-and-candles type to plastic varieties modeled after cartoon characters.
With a lantern in hand, join in the mass lantern walk, which promises to turn the streets into a dazzling procession of lights. The street bazaar also offers a multitude of traditional goodies like pomelos, Chinese tea, and most of all, mooncakes.
For the culinary adventurous and budding gourmands, sample scrumptious mooncakes (a rectangular box or circle shape thick pastry dough filled with yummy ingredients) in traditional flavours like lotus and egg yolk or exotic varieties like durian, chocolate, coffee and ice-cream.
Staged shows will also be performed every night during the lantern festival, and remember to make way for dragon dancers offstage as they weave their way through a season of reunion and revelry.
Mooncake Festival in Malaysia
The Mid-Autumn or Moon Cake Festival is another interesting celebration for the Chinese community in Malaysia. Here, the festival is marked by lantern processions by children and adults alike. During this time, Malaysian Chinese exchange moon cakes with friends and family as an expression of their best wishes. For visitors who are keen to know about the culture and traditions of the Chinese, the Chinese History Museum in Sarawak offers a fascinating insight.
This festival has come to symbolise a quiet celebration of peace and shared prosperity. Take delight in the colourful lanterns displayed during this time while enjoying the variety of mooncakes available.
In the holiday island of Penang, beautifully decorated lanterns bring on an air of festivity. Lantern processions are a sight to behold.
Happy Mooncake Festival 2012 ! Happy Mid-Autumn Festival 2012 ! Happy Lantern Festival 2012
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