Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! Fly Us to the Moon
Updated: Oct 11, 2022
On September 10, many countries and cultures celebrate the mid-autumn moon, the most gorgeous of all full moons. Depending where in the world you view her, the moon can be buttercream, bright white, or russet, and on her surface are many shapes in her interior. In moon-viewing parties, you can pick out, from the moon, the different characters that live on her surface – rabbit, goddess, old man.
A Few Moon Mythologies
If you are Chinese, you might see Chang-e, the moon goddess. According to the Chinese, an archer shot down nine of the ten moons in the sky and was rewarded with the elixir of long life. His wife, Chang-e stole that elixir from him and floated up to the moon.
According to Vietnamese folklore, an old man cares for a sacred Banyan tree with pure, spring water. His wife urinates on the tree, and when the old man is next there, the Banyan tree seizes him and he, like Chang-e, flies moon-ward.
In Buddhist mythology, a beggar comes across three friends, a fox, a monkey, and a rabbit. He says that he is starving. The monkey retrieves fruit, the fox finds fish, but the rabbit cannot offer anything so he builds a fire and throws himself on top of it to offer himself as a meal. The beggar, who is the Buddhist god Śakra, sends the rabbit’s soul -- where else? -- to the moon.
In South, Central, and North American mythologies, there are also rabbits on the moon. For instance, in Mayan mythology, the rabbit sacrifices himself for the god Quetzalcoatl, and is given a lunar home.
Mooncakes & other tasty traditions
Mooncakes are originally Chinese, but they are also found in countries like Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. In Ireland, we are most familiar with the Cantonese Chinese moon cakes . These cakes have a shortcrust pastry that encloses a lotus or red bean filling and a salted duck yolk inside that signifies the moon. Although we find them scrumptious, these traditional Cantonese Chinese moon cakes are pretty rich and not for everyone! Traditionally these are given to people around the holiday, which makes people liken them to a Christmas Cake. There is a “Mooncake calorie counter” which suggests that one moon cake is worth five fried chicken legs, or two plates of nasi nomak.
However, many Chinese mooncakes transformed to keep up with the chic times. There are crystal mooncakes, vegan mooncakes with dark chocolate and crushed raspberry, and ice cream mooncakes. At Dublin’s Asia Market, the Macau brand October 5 proffers moon cakes available with fillings like walnut black sesame and cranberry. Buy traditional and non-traditional October 5 mooncakes at asiamarket.ie. You can also find the mooncake brand Wing Wah.
In Malaysia, a popular mooncake filling is the creamy, pungent fruit durian. In Vietnam, the pastry can be replaced with rice-flour, to make a snow skin mooncake, or bahn deo.
In Japan, there are tsukimi dango rice cakes, similar to the glutinous rice mochi.
In Korea, people celebrate with songpyeon, rice cake dumplings formed like the crescent moon and steamed over pine needles
How do you celebrate Mid-Autumn festival?
Please share all your Mid-Autumn stories, traditions, food, and recipes with us in your comments!