Celebrate the Chinese Mooncake Festival with HiYou!
Celebrated since at least as long ago as the Tang Dynasty the Mooncake Festival, also known as the “Mid-Autumn” festival is second only to the Chinese New Year in the pantheon of Chinese holidays. Like the Islamic celebration of Eid and the Christian celebration of Easter, the Mooncake festival is not celebrated on a fixed annual date but falls on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month which on the Western calendar tends to fall in September or October and in 2022 is 10th September.
There are several “origin stories” which explain the origins of this celebration. According to one legend the Zhou dynasty emperors who ruled as long as three thousand years ago would gather their families together every autumn to worship and pay homage to the Moon. In return, the moon granted the people a productive harvest for the following year.
Perhaps the most popular story however is the romantic legend of the great archer HiYou and his beloved wife Change. The legend is too rich and complex to do justice here, but essentially it tells of a time long ago when ten Suns beat down upon the Earth. The land baked and the people suffered in the heat of a devastating and seemingly endless drought. Rivers died up. Crops failed. Unable to accept the suffering of the Chinese people HiYou climbed to the summit of the mountain of Kun Lun and with his god-like archery skills shot down nine of those ten suns thus saving the people from drought. As a reward HiYou was presented with a powerful elixir which had the power to grant immortality. A wise man, HiYou did not take the elixir, entrusting it instead to his wife, Change.
But the promise of immortality is a terrible temptation and one of HiYou’s apprentices, greedy for eternal life attempted to force Change to hand the elixir over. Understanding that such a man was not worthy of immortality, rather than do so Change took the elixir herself. She became a being of light and began to float into the air. Fearing that she would keep rising forever and never see her husband HiYou again she landed clung to the to the moon and stayed there.
When HiYou returned home and learned what had happened he was devastated, believing his wife lost forever. But then he noticed that the moon was shining brighter than usual and recognised the shadow of his wife on the moon’s surface. Realising that his beloved was now a deity HiYou constructed an altar in the moonlight and loaded it up with her favourite fruits and snacks as a memorial and an offering to his wife. Word of Change and her ascendance to the moon spread far and wide and ever since, at the time of every Mid-Autumn festival people make offerings and pray to the moon asking the kind-hearted Change to bestow peace and happiness upon them.
In Chinese culture the full moon is a symbol of reunion and the Mid-autumn, or Mooncake festival is a time for families to get together and celebrate. Houses are decorated with traditional paper lanterns and the celebration will centre around a shared meal including traditional dishes such as crab, duck, taro, and pumpkin with a soft sweet wine made from osmanthus flowers, which are always in blook at the time of the festival.
If families are separated and some members cannot be there to share the feast in person, they will go and look at the moon on the evening of the festival knowing that wherever they are their family are all also looking up and appreciating the same Moon.
Over centuries sharing a Moon Cake has become a powerful part of this festival, in a similar sort of way that in the UK Easter Eggs have become synonymous with Easter and Christmas Cake with Christmas, although there is a lot more tradition and symbolism wrapped up in the Mooncake. As the leading online Chinese supermarket in the UK HiYou always makes a special effort to have a real variety of delicious Mooncakes available to help our customers celebrate in style – but if you are unfamiliar with the festival, you might be wondering what a Mooncake actually is, so let us introduce these wonderful Chinese pastries to you.
Typically, a Mooncake will be round, which in Chinese culture represents unity – wholly appropriate for this family-oriented festival. They have a thick pastry shell and a typically sweet and unctuously thick filling, although savoury versions are not all that unusual. Often a whole salted egg yolk will be right at the centre of the Mooncake, representing the full moon.
These gorgeous pastries not only taste great, but they look fantastic too. Traditionally they feature elaborate decorations depicting Chinese characters, significant symbols, delicate flowers, vines or animals. Because of this Mooncakes are often very expensive because their intricacy requires a lot of work from skilled bakers.
Obviously as a leading online Chinese food store we work hard to bring you a range of delicious Mooncakes that are affordable for every pocket without ever compromising on quality. Our smallest is the Zheng Feng Mooncake with a luscious white lotus paste filling and a double yolk in the centre, perfect as a gift or a centrepiece for a small celebration. We also have larger examples, such as the spectacular Yuebanhuangting Mooncake with a purple sweet potato lava filling. Alternatively, we have a great range of assorted Mooncake selections.
We have tea Mooncakes, Lotus seed Mooncakes, Red Bean Mooncakes, Lava Custard Mooncakes and so much more to help you celebrate the Mid-Autumn Mooncake Festival in style. So make yourself some paper lanterns, start exploring some traditional recipes and get your store cupboard stocked up with the ingredients you will need for a traditional Cnese Mooncake Festival feast!
There is so much variety! In the eastern Fujian Province there is a tradition of cooking duck with a kind of taro widely found in the province at the Mid-Autumn Festival. In Jiangsu Province it is more common to cool the duck salted and baked with Osmanthus flowers duck (salted and baked duck) is a must-eat food for people in East China's Jiangsu Province. Meanwhile the most well-known duck dish for the mooncake festival in Nanjing has been enjoyed for more than two and a half thousand years. The duck is roasted to give crisp skin, tender meat and succulent fat, which may sound greasy but really is not. Travel west to the Sichuan Province and you will find people enjoying smoke baked duck. Here the well-prepared duck is baked with smoke from flaming straw, and then cooked with brine to add even more flavour.
And that is just some of the variation in tradition for just one food. As a leading Chinese food store, we encourage you to use this wonderful festival as an inspiration for discovering the great variety of Chinese dishes. Here in the United Kingdom, we rarely see the incredible diversity of food styles in China, there is so much more than the dishes you will be familiar with from your local Chinese restaurant.
So come with us on a true journey into Chinese culinary culture. Here at HiYou, the leading online Chinese supermarket in the UK, we can supply everything you need. All of the ingredients are waiting for you, so do some research, get the things you need delivered to your door by our efficient delivery service, invite your family and friends around on 10th September and celebrate this ancient festival with the people you love.
Just don’t forget the Mooncakes!