The Chinese have given us much to celebrate, not least Chinese food, which has seemingly left its indelible mark on every continent around the globe. Perhaps it is fitting that the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, second only in importance to the Spring Festival, brings with it another Chinese delight – the moon cake.
Also known as the Moon Festival or “Zhongqiu jie”, the Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated annually on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month, this year falling on the 19th September. With the moon at its brightest, the date will be a celebration of the end of the summer harvesting season for farmers, while for others it is the opportunity for a joyous reunion of family members who gather to party and appreciate the beauty of the autumn moon. Indeed, those of Chinese origin around the globe see the occasion as a chance to gallivant, dance, feast and moon watch to their heart’s content.
Legends concerning the origins of the Mid-Autumn Festival abound, but perhaps the most told is of the Chinese moon goddess, Chang’e, and her tempestuous relationship with her consort, the Lord Archer, Hou Yi. The story goes that once, while the earth and its population were being ravaged by a severe drought caused by ten suns fiercely burning simultaneously in the sky, Hou Yi was summoned by the gods and asked to shoot down nine of the demon suns with the promise that in return he would be given the highly sought after elixir of immortality.
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