Friday, September 28, 2012

Asian Mid-Autumn Festival — Taiwanese Flavors, Please

Click image to send this e-card from the original site.
For those who may not yet know, this weekend is the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival! This event also goes by the name Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival; in Chinese, it's 中秋節 / 中秋节 / zhongqiujie, pronounced zhong-chyo-jyeh. The date is determined by the lunar calendar and usually falls on or around a full moon, this year falling on Sunday, September 30.

If you would like to read up more on the history and the fun folk tale behind the Mid-Autumn Festival, just wiki it. It's basically a mythogical take on a marital spat (and subsequent separation), with a nice little magic creature thrown in for good measure. ...Yay for moons and rabbits in tandem!

Traditionally, people exchange and eat mooncakes to celebrate this lunar holiday. There are various styles of mooncakes depending on which region you're in, including the fancy, stamped crusts favored by the Cantonese and the layered, flaky rounds more common to Taiwanese mooncakes. I prefer the latter for their lightness and chew! Also, all kinds of fillings and combinations are used, ranging from lotus seed paste to green bean to pine nuts to egg yolks (to represent the moon, you see).

In our house, we've been lucky enough to receive multiple kinds. I always get excited when edible bounty comes in and have been having to try and restrain myself from overindulging. These things are not low-calorie! Sharing the joy:

Pretty Packaging that is Box of Happiness #1; little pine nut cutie, bursting with black sesame goodness.

I was actually more elated upon discovering these, even though they're not mooncakes.
Savory sweetmeats!!!

By the way, even though the Mid-Autumn Festival is traditionally a Chinese festival, other East Asian cultures also have their own spin on the holiday, marked by the same date.

Koreans celebrate 추석 / Chuseok, nicknamed "Korean Thanksgiving," where it's traditional to eat a type of rice cake called 송편 / songpyeon. My favorite is the little one filled with honey and nuts. This holiday is actually one of the biggest Korean holidays; people also travel back to their hometowns, usually their father's side of the family, and visit ancestral graves. Seoul gets emptied out, and the traffic is no joke.

Prime example of a traditional Chuseok table.
Grand old Korean feast! [via zenkimchi]

And in Japan, there is 月見 / Tsukimi, where people traditionally eat tsukimi dango, little balls of rice dumplings. It seems like they're inclined to celebrate moonviewing throughout the month, which I daresay is the best way to do it.

Dango (via Gournavi)

Want to join in on the fun? You can read lots more on the various Mid-Autumn Festivals at this informative site as well as send some e-cards to friends -- wish them a happy Mid-Autumn Festival or even invite them to a little celebratory party of your own!


  1. wow so pretty!!! which one was your fave in the box? i imagine the taro and goldenyolk+date would be yummyyyy

    1. aw! the taro was good, though it tasted more like red bean and the parents complained a little about not tasting any taro... i liked that one though. so cute how you like the rich egg yolk ones!