Mid-Autumn Festival or Mooncake Festival ~ Part 2   4 comments


Mid-Autumn Festival or Mooncake Festival ~ Part 2

 

Meanings of the festival

The festival celebrates three fundamental concepts which are closely tied to one another:

  • Gathering, such as family and friends coming together, or harvesting crops for the festival. It’s said the moon is the brightest and roundest on this day which means family reunion.
  • Thanksgiving, to give thanks for the harvest, or for harmonious unions
  • Praying (asking for conceptual or material satisfaction), such as for babies, a spouse, beauty, longevity, or for a good future

Traditions and myths surrounding the festival are formed around these three concepts, although traditions have changed over time due to changes in technology, science, economy, culture, and religion.

Display of multi-coloured Lanterns at a Dim Sum Restaurant in Penang for the Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon-cake Festival 2016.

Display of multi-coloured Lanterns at a Dim Sum Restaurant in Penang for the Mid-Autumn Festival or Mooncake Festival 2016.

Display of multi-coloured Lanterns at a Dim Sum Restaurant in Penang for the Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon-cake Festival 2016.

Display of multi-coloured Lanterns at a Dim Sum Restaurant in Penang for the Mid-Autumn Festival or Mooncake Festival 2016.

Modern celebration

The festival was a time to enjoy the successful reaping of rice and wheat with food offerings made in honor of the moon. Today, it is still an occasion for outdoor reunions among friends and relatives to eat mooncakes and watch the moon, a symbol of harmony and unity. The festival is celebrated with many cultural or regional customs, among them:

 

Display of multi-coloured Lanterns at a Dim Sum Restaurant in Penang for the Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon-cake Festival 2016.

Display of multi-coloured Lanterns at a Dim Sum Restaurant in Penang for the Mid-Autumn Festival or Mooncake Festival 2016.

Display of multi-coloured Lanterns at a Dim Sum Restaurant in Penang for the Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon-cake Festival 2016.

Display of multi-coloured Lanterns at a Dim Sum Restaurant in Penang for the Mid-Autumn Festival or Mooncake Festival 2016.

Lanterns

A notable part of celebrating the holiday is the carrying of brightly lit lanterns, lighting lanterns on towers, or floating sky lanterns. Another tradition involving lanterns is to write riddles on them and have other people try to guess the answers (simplified Chinese: 灯谜;traditional Chinese: 燈謎; pinyin: dēng mí; literally: “lantern riddle”).

It is difficult to discern the original purpose of lanterns in connection to the festival, but it is certain that lanterns were not used in conjunction with moon-worship prior to the Tang Dynasty. Traditionally, the lantern has been used to symbolize fertility, and functioned mainly as a toy and decoration. But today the lantern has come to symbolize the festival itself. In the old days, lanterns were made in the image of natural things, myths, and local cultures. Over time, a greater variety of lanterns could be found as local cultures became influenced by their neighbors.

As China gradually evolved from an agrarian society to a mixed agrarian-commercial one, traditions from other festivals began to be transmitted into the Mid-Autumn Festival, such as the putting of lanterns on rivers to guide the spirits of the drowned as practiced during the Ghost Festival, which is observed a month before. Hong Kong fishermen during the Qing Dynasty, for example, would put up lanterns on their boats for the Ghost Festival and keep the lanterns up until Mid-Autumn Festival.

In Vietnam, children participate in parades in the dark under the full moon with lanterns of various forms, shapes, and colors. Traditionally, lanterns signified the wish for the sun’s light and warmth to return after winter. In addition to carrying lanterns, the children also don masks. Elaborate masks were made of papier-mâché, though it is more common to find masks made of plastic nowadays. Handcrafted shadow lanterns were an important part of Mid-Autumn displays since the 12th-century Ly dynasty, often of historical figures from Vietnamese history. Handcrafted lantern-making declined in modern times due to the availability of mass-produced plastic lanterns, which often depict internationally recognized characters such as Pokémon‘s Pikachu, Disney characters, SpongeBob SquarePants and Hello Kitty.

Display of multi-coloured Lanterns at a Dim Sum Restaurant in Penang for the Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon-cake Festival 2016.

Display of multi-coloured Lanterns at a Dim Sum Restaurant in Penang for the Mid-Autumn Festival or Mooncake Festival 2016.

Display of multi-coloured Lanterns at a Dim Sum Restaurant in Penang for the Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon-cake Festival 2016.

Display of multi-coloured Lanterns at a Dim Sum Restaurant in Penang for the Mid-Autumn Festival or Mooncake Festival 2016.

Mooncakes

Making and sharing mooncakes is one of the hallmark traditions of this festival. In Chinese culture, a round shape symbolizes completeness and reunion. Thus, the sharing and eating of round mooncakes among family members during the week of the festival signify the completeness and unity of families. In some areas of China, there is a tradition of making mooncakes during the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival. The senior person in that household would cut the mooncakes into pieces and distribute them to each family member, signifying family reunion. In modern times, however, making mooncakes at home has given way to the more popular custom of giving mooncakes to family members, although the meaning of maintaining familial unity remains.

Although typical mooncakes can be around a few inches in diameter, imperial chefs have made some as large as several feet in diameter, with its surface impressed with designs of Chang’e, cassia trees, or the Moon-Palace. One tradition is to pile 13 mooncakes on top of each other to mimic a pagoda, the number 13 being chosen to represent the 13 months in a full lunar year.

According to Chinese folklore, a Turpan businessman offered cakes to Emperor Taizong of Tang in his victory against theXiongnu on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month. Taizong took the round cakes and pointed to the moon with a smile, saying, “I’d like to invite the toad to enjoy the (胡) cake.” After sharing the cakes with his ministers, the custom of eating these cakes spread throughout the country. Eventually these became known as mooncakes. Although the legend explains the beginnings of mooncake-giving, its popularity and ties to the festival began during the Song Dynasty (906–1279 CE).

Another popular legend concerns the Han Chinese’s uprising against the ruling Mongols at the end of the Yuan dynasty (1280–1368 CE), in which the Han Chinese used traditional mooncakes to conceal the message that they were to rebel on Mid-Autumn Day.

Inserted by SP Lim from Wikipedia.

 

Display of multi-coloured Lanterns at a Dim Sum Restaurant in Penang for the Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon-cake Festival 2016.

Display of multi-coloured Lanterns at a Dim Sum Restaurant in Penang for the Mid-Autumn Festival or Mooncake Festival 2016.

Mooncakes

Display of multi-coloured Lanterns at a Dim Sum Restaurant in Penang for the Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon-cake Festival 2016.

Display of multi-coloured Lanterns at a Dim Sum Restaurant in Penang for the Mid-Autumn Festival or Mooncake Festival 2016.

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Posted September 8, 2016 by lspeng1951 in Photography

4 responses to “Mid-Autumn Festival or Mooncake Festival ~ Part 2

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  1. I LOVE the lanterns. Thank you for sharing this celebration. I was..I think I was in a Panaderia, or Mexican Bakeshop, in Chicago when, amongst all the delights (Tres Leche) Mexican I spied a very small, somewhat out of place box of Mooncake. It stuck in my mind. I always seem to miss the actual festival but you have brought it to life. Thank you!

    Like

  2. I so much enjoy your posts. Your blog always gives me insight to life in another culture and I love learning through your posts. Your images are beautiful as always.

    Liked by 1 person

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