Mid Autumn Festival - Mooncakes, lanterns and its significance
by Jes @SnackFirst on Sep 08, 2022
The celebration of Mid Autumn Festival and history of mooncakes date back to more than 3000 years ago in China. It started as a common pastry and was only filled with walnuts and sesame seeds
It became more popular in the 13th century where it was used to overthrow the Mongols. As Mongols did not eat mooncakes, the resistance message was hidden inside these pastries to rebel and collectively kill the rulers on the day of Mid Autumn Festival. This triumph is also linked closely with the sacrificial rites of the Sun and the Moon deities.
Common belief is about the legend of Chang E, the moon goddess. Legend has it that Hou Yi, her husband was a hero to shoot down 9 other suns, to prevent the planet from over heating and causing great disaster to the crops. A god gave Hou Yi an immortality elixir but his friend wanted to steal it when Hou Yi went hunting during Mid Autumn Festival. To prevent his friend from consuming it, Chang E ate it herself and flew to the moon. However, this meant that the lovebirds will never be together again. Thus Chang E, the moon goddess was prayed to for love, luck and safety.
Nowadays, as the moon is the roundest and brightest in the middle of Autumn, or the 15th day of the eighth month in Lunar calendar, it's a time for family reunions. The consumption of mooncakes, lighting of lanterns and drinking tea are the custom of this festival.
There are many kinds of mooncakes. The most traditional ones are the lotus paste mooncakes with flour coating that is baked to brown. There are also animal shapes ones without any fillings inside that are more suitable for kids. Salted egg yolks are popular as they give the mooncakes a umami, savoury taste. However, not everyone like the overwhelming taste, which is why we have the nuts mooncake instead. This combination of macadamias with lotus paste is more fragrant, less sweet and slightly crunchy.
We also have the Cantonese mixed nuts version, where it is traditionally baked with lots of nuts, seeds and dried orange peel. They are all less sweet to suit people who are more health conscious and prefer more refreshing taste. The addition of Rose Tea and gojiberries give a light and delightful texture inside the fruity mooncake. Lastly, the pine nuts are added into green bean paste with a tinge of coffee.
In Singapore, snow skin mooncakes are also popular. They are a premium gifts as these have to be stored chilled and taste refreshing as a dessert. Lychee, osmanthus and durian mooncakes are highly in demand and more interesting tastes are on the rise.
Not just mooncakes, playing lanterns are a notable part of celebrating this festival. Floating sky lanterns are a way to make wishes, while carrying brightly lit lanterns are a fun custom for kids and also to pray for love and fertility.
With healthy snacks on the rise, you do not have to feel guilty eating these low sugar mooncakes while you play with the lanterns!