festival, also known as Mid-Autumn Festival or Lantern Festival, is
a time when children run around with colorful lanterns and families
gather for some delicious mooncakes filled with sweet or savory
fillings. It is the only time of the year when children are allowed
to stay up late and play with colorful lanterns. Some carry colored
lanterns in the shape of animals and their favorite cartoon
character, while others carry traditional round paper lanterns that
are usually used as decoration. Many children are also seen carrying
battery operated plastic lanterns which many adults feel are safer.
A popular Chinese myth related to the
Mooncake Festival involves the immortal Chang Er who lives on the moon.
She was very beautiful and people celebrate her beauty during the mooncake
festival, when the moon is at its brightest and roundest - on the 15th of
eight lunar month.
Once upon a time in China, ten suns appeared
in the sky and this was causing much grief to the people. Crops were
withering, rivers were drying up and people were dying from the heat. This
catastrophe forced the emperor to summon Hou Yi, a mythological archer to
shoot down the suns in return for an immortal elixir. He wanted to shoot
down all the suns but his wife, Chang Er begged him to leave one up in the
sky for warmth and light. As Hou Yi was about to go against his wife's
wishes, his wife grabbed the immortal elixir and drank it as a form of
protest immediately after, Chang Er began floating higher and higher until
she reached the moon and stayed there.
In the 14th century, the Han Chinese
overthrew the Mongols in a carefully planned uprising. The success of this
uprising lies in these little mooncakes. Small pastries with a secret
message outlining the plan was hidden inside the pastries and distributed.
Lantern wielding rebels distributed the pastries at night in a well
disguised wedding celebration. As outlined in the secret message, the Han
Chinese executed a surprise attack on the Mongols.
moon on the Mid Autumn Festival shone brightly on the pathways to
guide the rebels through the maze of the palace. Since then,
mooncakes and lanterns are used each year to honor the new dynasty
and the auspiscious moon.
Traditionally, mooncakes are small pastries
filled with a sweet paste filling - redbean or lotus seed. Now, new
recipes are being invented to cater for the fickle consumer's tastebuds.
There is pandan (screwpine leaf) filling, coconut filling, meat fillings,
nut and fruits filling, yam and even durian filling. For those who prefer
cold treats, there are also ice-cream mooncakes!
Traditionally, the most popular form of
mooncakes consumed is the ones stuffed with egg yolks. The yolks in the
mooncake represent the full moon during the celebration. Although some
people would heartily consume mooncakes filled with four eggyolks, many
health conscious consumers rather opt for the less-sweet types of