Light up September with the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival!
Always wondered about the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival? Here's a little history, food 411, and how to celebrate at home or in your community!
Image Source: Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Gardens http://vancouverchinesegarden.com
Light your lantern and share a moon cake - it’s time for the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival! Celebrated in China and around the world, this harvest festival is over 2000 years old and is celebrated according to the lunar calendar: this year, it falls on September 8th. It’s a perfect time to see your family, enjoy mooncakes and, if it’s your first Moon Festival, learn more about this family (and foodie!) friendly tradition.
“In ancient times, the full harvest moon was worshipped as a time of bounty – and being an agrarian society, this was incredibly important,” explains Susan Ma, Head of Education for Vancouver’s Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. “Over time, and more so in the past few centuries, this became synonymous with reunion and the coming together of family. Today, we somewhat liken the Mid-Autumn Festival to the Western version of Thanksgiving.” As part of the celebrations, families play games, tell stories, display lanterns and admire the full autumn moon.
“The idea of reunion means there is traditionally an exchange of moon cakes as gifts with friends and family, as well as a hearty feast.” says Susan. Other traditional foods may include a whole chicken (to represent the wholeness and togetherness of family) or duck, as well as any other regional specialties available in the fall season. Susan adds “Most southern Chinese traditions also include soft-boiling taro roots, or making taro cake. Pomelos are also displayed and eaten—the roundness and colour of the pomelo emulates that of the moon as well!”
To really enjoy the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, start by heading to a celebration in your community. There are a variety of festivals and events happening around BC so be sure to check your local paper or search online to see what's available near you. In Vancouver at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, Mid-Autumn Moon Festival festivities on September 7th will include family-friendly activities, traditional music, tales of the mid-autumn moon and moon cake tasting, along with lantern lighting as the sun sets. If you’re celebrating at home, you’ll want to try your hand at making traditional molded moon cakes. If your sous-chefs are a bit smaller, try this easy jam-based recipe instead. Enjoy your cakes with your family by the light of homemade lanterns (we love this bunny one!) and don’t forget to send a wish to the moon together!