The Mid-Autumn Festival is on September 21, 2021! Let’s celebrate by learning about the legend behind this holiday and finding out how to make mooncake.
As with many legends, there are different versions of the story about Chang’e and the legendary archer Hou Yi. One version tells of a time when ten suns rose into the sky instead of one, and Hou Yi was rewarded with an elixir of immortality for shooting down nine of the suns. Hou Yi received but did not consume the elixir. Instead, he hid it.
Maybe Chang’e was curious and sought out the elixir, or maybe she was trying to prevent a thief from taking it, but in any case, she consumed the elixir and began floating into the sky. Hou Yi tried to bring her down but was unsuccessful. Now she lives as an immortal on the moon with a jade rabbit, who continues to make the elixir of immortality.
On every full moon of the eighth lunar month, the moon goddess Chang’e appears, and people celebrate with food, family, and friends. Food is an important aspect of this holiday since it falls around harvest time. People all over East and Southeast Asia celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival.
One of the treats that you often find in markets around Mid-Autumn Festival time is mooncake, a dense, flaky pastry with intricate designs printed on top and many types of filling. People buy mooncake to eat, offer, and gift to friends and family, but did you know that you can also make your own mooncake?
My aunt made mooncake recently, and here’s what she has to say about her experience!
Mooncakes come with many different flavors and fillings. What kind of ingredients did you put in your mooncake?
- I used lotus seeds and red bean fillings. I did not have salted egg yolks ("moons"), so I made the mooncakes without them.
How would you rate the difficulty of making mooncakes on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being easy and 5 being hard?
- I would say it was more time-consuming than difficult. I also think it depends on the recipe and one's baking experience. I'd rate the difficulty between 3 and 4.
How long does it take to make mooncake?
- I spread out the work by making the fillings and syrup (for the pastry) one day, and assembled and baked the mooncakes the following day.
Mooncakes come with pretty patterns on top. What did you use to make those patterns, and do you have a photo of your mooncakes you’d like to share?
- I did not have a mooncake mold, so unfortunately I did not produce beautiful mooncakes. I just used a chopstick to form a design, but nothing elaborate like the molds.
It’s important to note that you don’t need a fancy mold to make mooncake! Sharing mooncake with others is what counts. My grandma used to make her own mooncakes and passed these wooden molds down to our family.
Moon Myths around the World
Take a look at the books in this list to read more about the Mid-Autumn Festival and other legends about the moon!
People all over the world are fascinated by the moon, and it has been the subject of many legends and tales. Read about a moon folktale from one of these books for kids!