The Mid -Autumn Festival ( Zhonqiu Jie)-Chinese
Every year on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month comes Mid-Autumn Festival - so called because the 8th lunar month is in the middle of the autumn season, and ht e15th day is the middle of that month. On this night the moon is supposed to be at the fullest and brightest of the year. It is an age-old tradition that on this night people come out to enjoying the moon and the moon-lit scenery.
The festival is all the more mysterious and interesting because of the moon myths and legends so popular among the people. Literary men and women in all times have written odes to the moon. One of the best-known is this one by the great Tang poet Li Bai:
Looking up, I see the bright moon; Hanging my head, I feel nostalgic.
For many centuries a full moon has been a symbol of family reunion, particularly reminding travelers of their loved ones at home, and the home ones of the ones who are away. Thus the day is called the Day of Reunion.
In dynasty times it was an imperial ritual to worship the sun in the spring and the moon in the autumn. As time went by , across the country it became a national ritual to worship the moon by prostrating oneself and making offerings. The sacrifice was exquisitely prepared- round cakes known as moon cakes. After the ritual,each family sat around in a circle eating the mooncakes, an act symbolizing the happiness of family reunion.
Historical records show that mooncakes were first make in the shops of Chang'an ( Xi'an in the Tang Dynasty. In the Qing Dynasty they were called Reunion Cakes, and were available everywhere. The mooncake is molded with a Moon Palace and the Moon Rabbit on its surface and comes in different sizes.
Today mooncakes are very popular in China. They are made in different ways from place to place, and their flavors vary too. The differences lies in the fillings, the moldings and the way they are prepared. Thus there are Beijing mooncakes, Suzhou moon-cakes, Guangdong mooncakes, yunnan mooncakes and so on. They are also called by their fillings - bean paste, lotus seed paste, different fruit seeds and nuts, egg yolk, chicken, cassia or date paste. The common ingredients are dough, oil, sugar and maltose.