The 15th day of the 8th lunar month marks the mid-autumn festival here in China. It is a time of the full moon. We get the day off on Friday (Yay) & a very welcome long weekend.
Essentially a harvest festival legend has it that there was an excellent archer called Hou Yi and one year when 10 suns rose in the sky scorching the earth, Yi through his skill and bravery shot down 9 of the suns with his arrows, leaving just one to give light. One of the gods admired this feat and gave Yi an elixir of immortality. Yi and his wife Chang’e planned to take it together but a thief broke in and tried to steal the potion when Yi was out. Chang’e refused to hand over the vial instead swallowed it all herself.
Chang’e flew to the moon where she could still be close to her husband. There she resides to this day and if you look carefully at the shadows on the surface you can see her.
Apparently if you look closely next to the moon lady in the shadows is a rabbit grinding up medicines for her! I’m not entirely sure why.
At this time of year the Chinese gaze up at the moon as Hou Yi once did. And they eat Mooncakes which represent the full moon. On the day of the festival they gather as a family to pray, to give thanks for the harvest and to celebrate their unity.
There is a proliferation of Mooncakes in the weeks leading up to this festival. A few years ago I tasted one which was solid and dry and seemed to suck every ounce of moisture from my mouth. That experience put me off Mooncakes. This has now been rectified by re-education as my two library assistants have been bringing me a different moon cake to try every day.
Here are some of the tasty treats:
The marks on the top are the makers brand
inside this one it has a sweet and creamy yolk like an egg
This was a Hagan das ice cream one (quite expensive I understand)
There are meat Mooncakes too which resembled sausage rolls in a different shape
Apparently these are so popular that people queue for ages in the rain to get some!
I was fascinated by these sweet ones in domes
Each Mooncakes had its own little package of silicia crystals underneath!
So many different types.
Yesterday we received a beautiful gift via the cleaning lady who explained everything in Chinese so we are non the wiser who it is actually from.
The one we ate had a filling of sweet chopped nuts similar to a baklava.
The tin alone was gorgeous. It’s a shame that we don’t know who to thank.