The History of Mooncake Festival

The History of Mooncake Festival

Mooncake 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.

Moon-walking Goddess

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.

Moonlit Uprising

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.

The full 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 mooncakes.

Mooncake Recipes

  1. Mini Icy Mooncake with Grape Juice Skin

  2. Mooncake with Egg York and Lotus Seed Mash

  3. Mooncake with Red Bean Mash

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