Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the largest celebrations of the Chinese calendar. Hear from our students in China as they tell us what they do to celebrate the occasion and get ready for some mouth-watering mooncakes.
The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is one of the biggest events on the Chinese calendar, it falls on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar when the moon is at its fullest and brightest.
A full moon in Chinese culture symbolises reunion and prosperity, a time when friends and family unite and celebrate the sheer joy of being together.
For some of our students in China, this may be their first time celebrating it with family since studying abroad. And for others, this may be the longest time they have spent away from their family.
Last Saturday, the University’s Centre in China hosted a gathering in Suzhou, our students in China from the Peer Study Program were able to meet in person and celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival together.
A hallmark tradition of the Mid-Autumn Festival is the sharing and eating of mooncakes, it’s a symbol of expressing love and best wishes to your loved ones. The round shape signifies completeness, but across regions of China, the styles and flavours of mooncakes vary.
While we cannot physically share and enjoy mooncakes, we have asked our students in China to share the love through pictures, so get ready for some mouth-watering images.
‘We always have a family reunion and watch Mid-Autumn Festival Gala in front of the TV. We will enjoy seeing the round moon, playing lanterns and guessing the lantern riddles,’ says Yuan Ren, from Guangzhou China, studying a Bachelor of Economics.
‘We usually have Cantonese-style mooncakes that have the flavour of red beans, and snow skin mooncakes. Recently, we would go for the lava egg custard mooncake. These mooncakes have a different crust and filling, but what they have in common is that they are all very sweet, compared to the mooncakes in the north of China. It has a crust that is very fluffy, the inside is filled with a creamy yolk filling made from salted egg yolk and milk. It tastes like you are eating another very famous Cantonese snack - milk yolk buns.’
He celebrates the occasion with his family through a small ceremony called ‘Jing Yue Guang’, which translates to ‘Offer to the Moon’. It involves a table full of fresh fruits, desserts (mooncakes of course), drinks, in the yard or balcony as offering to the Moon God in exchange for fortunes and well-wishes.
‘We sit around the table, watch the moon, chat with each other and wait for the moon grandpa to respond to us. So, what is his response? That is the moonlight, the brighter the moonlight is, the better luck he will give to the family,’ shares Jiawen.
‘In my hometown, Suzhou, we make local style mooncakes called ‘Suzhou-style mooncake’. It has a pastry surface and different fillings, such as five-nuts, sweet bean paste, jujube paste, which are sweet flavours. We also have a salty-filling flavour, which we use pork or beef stuffing with some spring onions, salt, MSG and soy sauce for seasoning. After baking, they will have intense wheat and meat aromas which smells quite tempting. So, if you want to have a Suzhou-style moon cake, I will highly recommend you try the meat-filling mooncakes.’
Zhuojia Li is from Beijing, he is studying a Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Science.
‘In Beijing, traditional mooncake is called “Zi Lai Hong”, the roast has a darker colour, with white sugar, rock sugar residue, nuts for filling, the skin is decorated by a red circle. It is loose on the surface, sweet in taste and rich in fragrance of Osmanthus flowers. Baked with sesame oil and flour, it is a vegetarian product.’
From Inner Mongolia, Rongxuan Jia is currently studying Master of Pharmacy.
‘Our family members always get together in my grandma's home. We will have a big meal. At night, when the moon rises, my grandma will put all the tributes including fruits and mooncakes on a small table. Then the table will be put in the yard, which is for the moon,’ says Rongxuan.
‘In Inner Mongolia, the mooncakes come with vrum and fermented milk curd filling. Its cover is golden and crisp. What is really special is its filling. We fill the mooncakes with dairy products from herdsman – vrum and fermented milk curd are common choices. They taste a little bit tough but full of milk flavour.’
We wish everyone, no matter where you are or how far apart we are from each other – a Happy Moon Festival. As Chinese poet Su Shi so eloquently wrote on the Mid-Autumn day of 1076, ‘Even through miles apart, we wish each other a long life so as to share the beauty of this graceful moonlight’ (但愿人长久，千里共婵娟).