Every year, on the 15th day of the 8th month on the Lunar Calendar,
countries all over Asia including China, Taiwan, Singapore, Korea, Japan
as well as all the overseas Asian communities celebrate the Moon Cake
Festival by feasting, dancing and moon gazing. To appreciate
the significance of this festival, you will need to understand the
legend and the history behind the tradition. Asian corporations
would hand out moon cakes to its clientele.
the moonlady depicted in ancient
a modern & commercial
interpretation of the moonlady (she now sells and delivers
LEGEND OF THE MOON LADY
The legend of the "Lady Living in the Moon" goes back to ancient Chinese
times from as early as 221 BC Zhou Dynasty. It was told that at
one time there were 10 suns in the sky, each of them taking the turn of
shining every 10 days. Then there will be the time when all 10
suns appeared together causing damage to the earth. The Emperor
ordered an archer to shoot the extra ones down. Hou Yi, the noble
archer, shot 9 down. As a reward, the goddess of the western
heaven awarded an elixir to would make him immortal.
The evil Peng Meng, another archer, tried to wrestle this elixir away
from Hou Yi's wife, (while Hou Yi was away). Rather than let an evil man
take this elixir away and be immortally evil, Chang'e the wife quickly
swallowed the elixir and became immortal. She flew to the moon and
would hence appear only one day every year - on the 15th day of the 8th
month on the Lunar Calendar, when the moon would be full, shining the
brightest in the year. Millions of Chinese would go to Moon
viewing pavilions gazing at the heavens. The Festival is
celebrated by feasting on moon cakes, retelling of the legend in dance
form and moon gazing.
Moon Cake Festival - the 1368 Chinese
rebellion against Mongol Rule.
When Chinese celebrate the Moon Cake Festival, they are not simply
celebrating the legend, but also the history of its liberation from the
oppressive Mongol Rule during the 13th century.
Because the Mongols do not celebrate the Moon Cake Festival, the Chinese
rebels were able to plot a rebellion by inserting a secret note into
moon cakes distributed to every household with the instruction for a
rebellion. The peasants promptly took up arms at the agreed time
and successfully overturned Mongol rule.
WESTERN MOON CAKES
Western corporations are quick to capitalize on the Asian market by
introducing western versions of the moon cake. Now we have moon
cakes in the form of Nokia cell phones. Hagen Daaz has a moon cake
variation. Raffles Hotel in Singapore introduced several kinds of
moon cakes in beautiful decorative Shanghai style tins depicting the
Moon Lady. Not to be left out, Starbucks also has its own
version of moon cake.
FEASTING ON MOON CAKES
Daaz Moon Cake Ice Cream
Assorted tins of moon cakes.
moon cakes are made with fillings of sweet bean paste. nuts, dates,
lotus seed paste or fruit. Most importantly, there is always
the salty yellow yolk in the middle made with 4 egg yolks to depict the
four phases of the moon. Chinese would celebrate with traditional
foods such as boiled peanuts, slices of taro, rice gruel, fish, noodles
and the must-have moon cakes.
All throughout China, there are moon viewing pavilions where
people can come and enjoy looking into the heaven and gaze at
Celebration of dancing does not mean disco-dancing. It is
the dance retelling of the legend plus other traditional dances
including dragon or lion dance.
Here is an animation from You Tube on the Legend behind the Moon Lady