Five Things to Know About the Mid-Autumn Festival
by Kevin / September 15, 2016 / Time.com
From elixir-guzzling fairies to moon cakes to molten wax
This Thursday will be a big day across much of East Asia. Families will gather for dinner, lanterns will be everywhere, and people will be out and about, mostly staring at the bright full moon while having aptly named moon cakes as desserts.
That’s because it is the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known by other names like the Moon Festival or the Moon Cake Festival. It’s celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month in the traditional East Asian lunar calendar, which falls on Sept. 15 in the Gregorian calendar this year. From Korea to Vietnam, from Japan to Singapore, this occasion will be marked by various customs and festivities. Here are five interesting things to know about the day:
1. It may all have begun with an elixir overdose
The tradition of family gathering and moon gazing in the evening of Mid-Autumn Festival is associated with the folklore tale of the Chinese moon goddess, Chang’e.
Legend has it that Chang’e levitated all the way to the moon when she overdosed on an elixir of life, intended originally for her husband who shot nine extra suns out of the sky with arrows. Her only companions on the lunar surface include a rabbit and a man condemned to Sisyphean tree-cutting.
2. Moon cakes are evolving thanks to globalization …
While there have always been different variations of moon cakes across Asia, including some savory ones, the classic sweet pastry most closely associated with the festival has been made the same way for centuries: salty egg yolks stuffed in paste made from lotus seeds or beans.
The market is much more diverse these days, not least since they can now come in all shapes and size. The inception of frozen moon cakes within the past three decades also helps. What’s more, multinational brands likeStarbucks and Häagen-Dazs are jumping in on the game too, with the latter’s iteration being a reshaped ice cream sandwich in essence. Read more…
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