China’s Mid-Autumn Moon Festival

 The Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar, which is in September or early October in the Gregorian calendar. This year, the Mid-Autumn Festival will fall on September 30th.  The Chinese Moon Festival is considered one of the most important holidays in China and is what some refer to as the “Chinese Thanksgiving”.  It is a time when Chinese families get together and celebrate the great summer harvest they have just received.  It is also to revel in the glory of the full moon and the myth of the immortal moon goddess names “Chang’e”.

There are many traditions associated with the Chinese Moon Festival.  Just like the traditional American festivities of Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Chinese Moon Festival is filled with lots of special foods, stories, and events around the city.  The Moon Cake is one of the more traditional foods to make consisting of red bean with a duck egg on top to symbolize the roundness of the full moon.  This delicacy is supposed to be eaten at night when the moon is high.  At the end of this article, there will be a recipe for you to make Moon Cakes for your very own Moon Festival celebration.

The holiday also takes on a romantic feel between couples.  It is tradition for couples both young and old to sit outside with a glass of wine under a clear night sky and gaze up at the full moon.  It is also a time for couples who are not able to be together that night to sit outside alone and gaze up at the moon knowing that their lover is gazing at that same moon at that very moment, helping to bring them closer together.

A traditional activity that Chinese families do for the moon festival is lighting lanterns with candles inside.  Not only are the lanterns visually appealing, but they also represent the fullness of the moon.  They come in all different shapes and sizes and are carried in processions at night.

So this season, help celebrate your child’s birth heritage by reuniting friends and family for this year’s Mid-Autumn Moon Festival and enjoy those delicious Moon Cakes!

Zhu ni sheng ri kuai le! 祝你生日快乐!

 

Mooncake recipe –

A recipe for mooncakes, the Chinese snack traditionally served during the Moon or Mid-Autumn Festival.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Filling:
  • 1 pound red azuki beans
  • water
  • 3/4 cup lard or oil
  • 1-3/4 cups sugar
  • Water-Shortening Dough:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 5 tablespoons lard
  • 10 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Flaky Dough:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 5 tablespoons lard
  • red food coloring for design

Preparation:

Filling Instructions: Soak red beans in water to cover 2 hours. Drain and discard the water. Cover with 8 cups fresh water and bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat 1-1/2 hours or until skins open. Strain the beans and discard the skins. Place the strained beans in several layers of cheesecloth and squeeze out any excess water.
Place in a saucepan with the lard or oil and the sugar. Cook, stirring continuously, until almost all the moisture has evaporated. Let cool.

Dough Instructions: You will need 2 cups of filling for the mooncakes. Divide this into 20 portions and shape into balls.Mix ingredients for the water-shortening dough and the flaky dough separately until smooth. Divide each dough into 20 equal portions.
Wrap one portion of flaky dough inside each portion of water-shortening dough. Roll out each piece of dough, then fold in thirds to form three layers. Roll out again, and once more fold in thirds to form three layers.
Flatten each piece of dough with the palm of your hand to form a 3″ circle. Place one portion of filling in the center. Gather the edges to enclose the filling and pinch to seal. Place the filled packet in the mold, gently pressing to fit. Invert and remove the mold.
Dilute red food coloring with water and pour onto a damp paper towel on a plate. Take some food coloring onto the cookie-design stamp, then press on top of the mooncake.
Repeat process for remaining mooncakes. Arrange mooncakes on a baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool before serving.

References:

http://chinesefood.about.com/od/foodfestivals/r/mooncakes.htm

http://www.moonfestival.org/

http://chineseculture.about.com/library/weekly/aa093097.htm

http://www.cultural-china.com/chinaWH/html/en/Traditions98bye394.html