Happy Mid-Autumn Festival, folks!
On Sept. 15, families all across East Asia gather for dinner, and gaze together at the bright, full moon as lanterns adorn their streets and homes.
Why, you ask? Because today is the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival and the Moon Cake Festival. The holiday is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month in the traditional East Asian lunar calendar.
As the legend goes, the Chinese moon goddess, Chang’e, levitated all the way to the moon after overdosing on an elixir of life that was originally intended for her husband (who, incidentally, shot nine superfluous suns out of the sky with arrows). Chang’e’s only companions on the lunar surface are a man condemned to Sisyphean tree-cutting, and a rabbit.
One of the key elements of the Moon Festival is to exchange Chinese pastries called mooncakes with loved ones. Their round shape is meant to be symbolic of completeness, and the exchange of mooncakes signifies the unity of families.
Look how gorgeous they are:
Traditionally, moon cakes are made with salty egg yolks, which are stuffed inside of a paste made from lotus seeds or beans.
However, due to the popularity of the treats, these days they are available in all different shapes, sizes, and flavor profiles, ranging from savory to classic, sweet pastries.
Starbucks has gotten in on the market:
How beautiful is this filling?
Popular ice cream company Haagen-Dazs has also made its own iteration of mooncake ice creams to celebrate the holiday:
Have you ever had a mooncake before? And will you be eating them in celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival? Let us know!