moon cakes
14 Sep

The Moon Festival





When is the Moon Festival?

Moon Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. It is a time for family members and loved ones to congregate and enjoy the full moon – an auspicious symbol of abundance, harmony and luck. Adults will usually indulge in fragrant moon cakes of many varieties with a good cup of piping hot Chinese tea, while the little ones run around with their brightly-lit lanterns.


Is Moon Festival a harvest festival?

It originally was. Now, as most people live in the cities and are far removed from food production, it’s really become a festival for viewing the moon.


How do you celebrate it?

Farmers for the most part still worship the Earth God on this day, in thanks for his generosity in the form of the year’s harvest. However, most other enjoy eating moon cakes and viewing the moon from a quiet, unlit place. This practice dates back to the pre-Christian era. We Chinese say that the moon on this day is at its fullest and brightest.

Moon cakes

Moon cakes


What are moon cakes?

They’re cakes round and yellow-white like the moon. They’re filled with egg yolk, beanpaste, nuts, meat, etc. The legend of their origin is interesting: During the mongol Yuan Dynasty, Chinese patriots passed secret messages by concealing them in festival cakes. Exchanging the cakes became a tradition that remains today.


Is there an Old Man on the Moon in Chinese folklore?

Yes, Tradition has it that he’s the supreme match-maker, tying young couples together on the night of the Moon Festival with invisible red silk thread.


Isn’t there also some story about a woman?

Yes, that’s Chang O. She was the wife of Hou Yi, a despotic ruler of ancient China. Chang O stole and drank her husband’s elixir of immortality, and then flew to the moon. Her punishment is to remain there for eternity.

Chang O

Chang O via


Why is the moon festival considered a woman’s festival?

That’s because women, like the moon, are predominantly yin. Yang, on the other hand, is ascendant in the sun and men. Yin and yang are the two major divisions of the universe, according to the I Ching, the 3,000-year-old Bible of Chinese thought.

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