The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as Mooncake or Lantern or Reunion festival, on 19 September this year, is a popular harvest festival celebrated by Chinese and Vietnamese people, which falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. In Chinese tradition, the full moon symbolizes peace, and the number 8 signifies prosperity.
Historically, Chinese emperors worshiped the moon and prayed for prosperity and a good harvest next year on this auspicious day. The ancient Chinese associated the moon with rejuvenation. There is an ancient fable in which the sun and moon are a couple, with the stars being their children. The full, round moon signified pregnancy, and the crescent was considered the post-natal state. These beliefs led women to worship and give offerings to the full moon during this time.
People have traditionally offered sacrificial offerings of mooncakes and fruits. During this time, farmers have just completed their harvest, and the mood is bright and festive. It is an occasion for family get-togethers and is a public holiday in China. Mid-Autumn has traditionally been an occasion for weddings. In some parts of China, dances are held for young men and women to find partners.
Mooncakes have played a major role in Chinese history. Ming revolutionaries hid secret messages in mooncakes to overthrow the Mongolian rulers of China during the Yuan dynasty, on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. Some messages were also printed on the surface of mooncakes as jigsaw puzzles. Each of the four mooncakes packaged together had to be cut into four parts each, and the sixteen pieces thus formed had to be re-arranged to form the message. The pieces of mooncake had to be consumed immediately thereafter to destroy the message. Now that’s some real food for thought!