Saturday, September 26, 2015

Happy Mooncake Festival 2015!

The Mooncake Festival always has a special place in my heart because it is always only a few days apart from my birthday. Since young, I look forward to this day because it is when family and friends will gather to seong yuet (admire the moon in Cantonese). The moon never fails to be at its fullest and brightest on that night. The luminescence of the moon will involuntarily lure us into a hypnotic gaze. Gatherings will be al fresco, articulated with tit bits, pomelo, baby yams with sugar and of course the celebrated food of the night, mooncakes!

I think paper lanterns are very elegant and romantic

This time-honoured culture of eating mooncakes brings warmth amongst us. While we have fun at the patio, I cannot deny that this tradition promises a very homely and humble feeling in me every year. Giving mooncakes to friends and family tantamounts to well wishing and respect. This year, I received "Jewels of Mid-Autumn" in a classy packaging of red and gold from my friend Kattie Hoo. Every mini drawer contains a jewel in dragon fruit flavour and yolk, a novelty flavour that my family and I received well.
"Jewels of Mid-Autumn" by Dorsett Subang in dragon fruit flavour

The cake inherits dragon fruit seeds which can be seen inside. Its fillings is mildly red from the fruit that also contributed to its sweetness. Modern mooncakes are now health-friendly with less sugar content. Although I am conscious about my weight, mooncakes always wins the immunity challenge. The yolk is always the best part for me and I always savour it last. That twist of savory delight after the chunk of sweet filling is one of its kind.

Inside the Dragon Fruit and Yolk mooncake

We benefit from commercialization and competition between Chinese restaurants and hotels every year as we see mooncake packagings being more and more creatively crafted. Oriental details is abundant commanding ownership of Chinese traditions. Sometimes I am surprised with the flamboyance of some packaging but always ending up admiring them even more.

Mooncakes from the boyfriend

There are many interpretations of the Mooncake Festival. I personally choose to believe in 2 stories.

1st story: 
Historically speaking, Mooncake Festival was brought about by the Ming Revolution. Mooncakes were used by the Ming revolutionaries to contain a secret message to overthrow the Mongolian rulers of China at the end of Yuan Dynasty together on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. The Han Chinese spread rumours that by eating the cakes, one will be cured from a deadly plague. The distribution of cakes were then approved and expedited. Some told that there were paper messages in the cakes while others said that words were printed on the surface of the cakes and were deciphered by cutting the mooncakes into 16 pieces. The messages were destroyed by eating the cakes. I think it was very brilliant of them!

Mooncakes from my cousin
2nd story:
Legend has it that there was a hero named Hou Yi who shot down 9 out of 10 suns that were torturing people on Earth, leaving one. His had a wife called Chang E. The Queen of Heaven presented the elixir of immortality to Hou Yi for his contribution. Yi did not want to be an immortal leaving his wife and therefore entrusted his wife to keep it. On the 15th of the 8th lunar month, Hou Yi went hunting and his apprentice Peng Meng broke into Yi's house, forcing Chang E to hand over the elixir. Chang E refused and to avoid the elixir from falling in to Peng Meng's hands, she drank it. She then became immortal and drifted to the sky. Instead of the heaven, she chose to reside on the moon with the jade rabbit to stay closer to her husband. Yi felt so sad and often gave offerings to his wife. People learned to do the same out of pity for Yi until now. 
Chang E the mythical Moon Goddess of Immortality and her husband Hou Yi
Photo credits to Wikipedia

I never grow up when it comes to playing with lanterns
A little hazy but it doesn't deter me from lighting lanterns

As for lanterns, some say that people light them up to help Yi find his wife. Some say every year, the Heavens will build a bridge to from the moon to let Chang E meet her husband on Earth.
Many light years later, the lantern is lit to beautify my house. Lanterns are so romantic. I always enjoy walking around the neighbourhood with a stick holding a lantern at the end. Whether its the ones shaped like cartoons with transparent plastic (when I was a kid) or paper lanterns, they give me joy all the same. My eyes will light up... just... the... same.

The glow of lanterns in my house
Happy Mooncake Festival!
Whether you call it Mooncake Festival or Lantern Festival or Mid-Autumn Festival, I would like to wish all my readers and their family...

中秋节快乐!

(zhong qiu jie kuai le)
Happy Mooncake Festival!