Thursday, 19 September 2013

Zhong Qiu Jie 中秋节 (Mooncake Festival)

Mid-Autumn Festival

File:Mid-Autumn Festival 21, Chinatown, Singapore, Sep 06.JPG
Mid-Autumn Festival lanterns in Chinatown, Singapore
Mid-Autumn Festival
Mid-Autumn Festival decorations in Beijing

Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations in Victoria Park, Hong Kong

Mid-Autumn Festival at the Botanical Garden, Montreal

Vietnamese children celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival with traditional 5-pointed star-shaped lantern

Mooncakes, often eaten during the festival

The festival was a time to enjoy the successful reaping of rice and wheat with food offerings made in honor of the moon. Today, it is still an occasion for outdoor reunions among friends and relatives to eat mooncakes and watch the moon, a symbol of harmony and unity. The festival is celebrated with many cultural or regional customs, among them:
  • Burning incense in reverence to deities including Chang'e.
  • Performance of dragon and lion dances, which is mainly practiced in southern China and Vietnam.
A notable part of celebrating the holiday is the carrying of brightly lit lanterns, lighting lanterns on towers, or floating sky lanterns. Tne tradition involving lanterns, dēng mí (simplified Chinese: 灯谜; traditional Chinese: 燈謎), is to write riddles on lanterns and have other people try to guess the answers

Making and sharing mooncakes is one of the hallmark traditions of this festival. In Chinese culture, a round shape symbolizes completeness and unity. Thus, the sharing of round mooncakes among family members signify the completeness and unity of families. In some areas of China, there is a tradition of making mooncakes during the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival. The senior person in that household would cut the mooncakes into pieces and distribute them to each family member, signifying family reunion. In contemporary times, however, making mooncakes at home has given way to the more popular custom of giving mooncakes to family members, although the meaning of maintaining familial unity remains

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Zhong Qiu Jie' 中秋节 (Mooncake Festival)

The mooncake festival (Zhong Qiu Jie) falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. It is an occasion for family members to get together over mooncakes, fruits and fine tea and have "moon appreciation" (赏月) sessions. With its association with mooncakes and lanterns, Zhong Qiu Jie is also called Mooncake Festival or Lantern Festival other then Mid-Autumn Festival.
t probably began as a harvest festival where Chinese agrarian communities celebrate and rejoice over their harvest.

The legend of Chang-E (常娥) and Hou Yi (后翼) goes like this: the earth once had ten suns circling it, each taking its turn to bring light and warmth to earth. However, one day all ten suns appeared together. The heat was so scorching and unbearable. A strong archer named Hou Yi came out and succeeded in shooting down nine suns. He was later made the emperor but after that he became a tyrant.

He wanted the elixir of life so that he can continue to rule forever. In order to save the people from his tyranny, his wife Chang-E stole the elixir and comsumed it herself. She then floated to the moon taking along her pet rabbit with her. Hence started the legend of the lady in the moon with her Jade Rabbit.

Zhong Qiu Jie was given new meaning during the 14th century when Zhu Yuan Zhang (朱元章) plotted against the Yuan dynasty started by the Mongolians. The rebels hid their messages in the mooncakes. Zhu eventually succeeded in overthrowing the Mongolian rule and became the first emperor of the Ming dynasty. Although Han rule was taken over by the Manchus in the 17th century (Qing dynasty), Zhong Qiu Jie continues to be a commemoration of the overthrow of the Mongolians by Han people.


Mooncake Festival 2013


Mooncakes are sweet round pastries stuffed with thick filling of lotus seeds paste. The size of these pastries is about 10 cm in diameters and 4-5 cm thick

Mooncake Festival (also known as Moon Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, Chinese Lantern Festival or Zhongqiu Festival) is a traditional harvest festival observed by Chinese and Chinese descendants in many countries. The festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month according to Chinese lunar calendar. Thus, the date of Mooncake Festival in Gregorian (Western) calendar varies from year to year although it usually falls between September and early October which is close to the autumnal equinox.

Being one of the most important Chinese festivals, Chinese people celebrate the festival by carrying out some traditions. The most common traditions done by Chinese people during Mooncake Festival are eating Mooncakes while viewing the moon, lighting lanterns, floating lanterns, burning incense, and many others. Traditional lion dance and dragon dance are also performed in many streets during Mid-Autumn Festival.

Different countries have different names for Mooncake Festival as well as different ways in celebrating the festival. As an illustration, Hong Kong and China refer to the festival as Zhong Qiu Jie or Mid-Autumn festival with Mooncakes as the main delicacy during the festival. Meanwhile, Taiwan calls the festival Tuan Yuan Jie or Reunion Festival and observes it by eating barbecue instead of Mooncakes. However, the purpose of celebrating Mooncake or Mid-Autumn Festival in each country is normally the same i.e. to thank God for the good harvest and all of the blessings given along the year.



Mid-Autumn Festival



The Mid-Autumn Festival is a traditional festival celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. The moon is regarded as the brightest, the fullest and the roundest one on this day.

It is one of the most important festivals in China and on that day, all the family members will come back home no matter how far away they are. During this traditional festival, the main activities for people are to admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon and eat mooncakes

On the night of Mid-autumn day, family members and friends will gather to admire the bright moon and eat delicious food, such as moon cakes, grapefruits, pomegranates, walnuts, etc. In some ethnic minority areas in China, varieties of activities will be held, such as “Naoyue”, which is especially popular among Miao ethnic minority (one of the ethnic minorities in China). This is a good chance for young people to look for their lovers and express their affections.

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Street Light-Up





There is no better place to soak in the festivities and celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival than in Chinatown. The district, where the Chinese first settled, relives the traditional festival with aplomb. Be enchanted by the lantern-themed decorations of Chinatown as New Bridge Road, Eu Tong Sen Street, South Bridge Road and the inner streets of Chinatown are decorated and lit up by a spectacular myraid of over 20,000 colourful lanterns of varying shapes and sizes, creating a kaleidoscope of colours

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20,000 lanterns for moonfest in Chinatown



Visitors to Chinatown enjoying themselves among colourful lanterns during the launch of the Chinatown Mid-Autumn Festival 2013 Festive Street Light-up last night.

Some 20,000 multi-coloured lanterns were strung up along New Bridge Road, Eu Tong Sen Street, South Bridge Road and various lanes in the area, breaking last year's record of 16,800.

The Chinatown light-up, which also features a 9.6m-tall giant lantern made up of 580 smaller ones, will last until Oct 4.

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Mooncakes for Mid-Autumn Festival

Mooncake Guide


The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the most popular lunar festivals, and it is always a great time to spread the love by sending mooncakes to family, friends and business associates. Every year, we go on a hunt for the tastiest mooncakes with the prettiest packaging.

And because they make such elegant gifts, we Chinese place a lot of attention and emphasis on our mooncake tradition.

Whether you are buying them as gifts or treating your family to a indulgence, here is our guide to the mooncakes that you must try for Mid-Autumn Festival 2013.

ManFuYuan Mooncakes 
Man Fu Yuan
Man Fu Yuan Snowskin Mooncakes
InterContinental Singapore, Man Fu Yuan
Tung Lok Mooncakes
TungLok Mooncakes 
Tung Lok nourishing series
TungLok Group
Szechuan Court Mooncakes
Fairmont Singapore, Szechuan Court
Swensens mooncake
Jewels of the Moon Swensen’s and Earle Swensen’s outlets
Peach Blossoms Mooncake
Marina Mandarin, Peach Blossoms 
Hai Tian Lo Mooncake
Pan Pacific Singapore, Hai Tien Lo

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Mooncake Festival (Zhong Qiu Jie)

On the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, many Chinese celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival (Zhong Qiu Jie) also known as the Mooncake Festival or the Festival of Lanterns (Yuanxiao).

Significance
The moon is at its brightest, being nearest to earth on this date. Thus the association with the moon and the "moon appreciation" parties (shang yue). It also coincides with the end of the autumn harvest and marks the end of the Hungry Ghost Festival on the 7th month. Thus, the day is also traditionally auspicious for weddings, particularly because the moon goddess is believed to extend conjugal bliss to the happy couple.

History
The festival probably started off as a post-autumn harvest celebration more than 2,000 years ago. The celebrations were devoted to giving thanks to the gods. It was during the reign of Emperor Tai Tsung of the Song Dynasty that the 15th day of the 8th moon was set as the Mid-Autumn Festival and praying to the moon became popular. Legends associated with the full moon were later attached to this festival.

Legends
Hou Yi and Chang-E
An archer, Hou Yi, saved the earth from scorching when he shot nine suns that originally circled the earth. As a reward, Hou Yi obtained the Elixir of life but he became so tyrannical that his wife, Chang-E, stole the Elixir and drank it. Chang-E found herself ascending to the moon and thereafter was escalated to status of Moon Goddess. Hou Yi in turn was given a cake by the Queen Mother of the Western Paradise (Xi Wangmu). He could withstand heat upon eating the cake and was sent to remain in the sun. With a special talisman he was able to visit his wife Chang-E on the 15th of every month. Thus the moon's brightness on this day. This legend is believed to have been started during the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907 AD) although some believe it may have started earlier, tracing it to the rule of Emperor Yuan (2346 BC).

Rabbit in the moon
Buddha had disguised himself as a hungry, old man and approached three animals; a fox, a monkey and a rabbit, for help. The fox caught a fish for him, the monkey brought some fruits but the rabbit offered its own body as meat by throwing itself into the fire. In gratitude, Buddha resurrected the rabbit and sent it to the moon to be venerated.

Overthrow of the Mongols
Mooncakes played a major role in liberating Yuan China (1206 - 1341 AD) from the oppressive Mongols in the 14th century. Despite a prohibition against large gatherings, Zhu Yuan Zhang was able to instigate a rebellion by placing secret messages in mooncakes. The rebellion took place during the Mid-Autumn Festival and henceforth the celebration of the festival and the eating of mooncakes took on a different meaning.

Celebrations
The Mid-Autumn Festival is held in conjunction with the worship of the God of Heaven. On this night, many houses are illuminated with lanterns, and feasts and dance parties are held on a grand scale. The month of the festival is a popular month for family gatherings with "moon viewing" parties, or shang yue, and the tradition of Tam Tang Lon, "lantern carrying".

Offerings of mooncakes and pomelo are made to the moon. Thirteen types of offerings to the moon, which signify the number of months in a full lunar year, are prepared by the female members of the family. Each offering has its own significance. Cosmetics are also placed on the altar in the belief that it would beautify the user.

The "galloping horse" lantern (zou ma deng) is popularly used during this time. The use of lanterns is a transference of the local Chap Goh Meh tradition to the Festival of Mooncakes.

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Mooncake Festival

Mooncake Festival

The Mooncake Festival is also known as the Lantern Festival or the Mid-Autumn Festival, and occurs usually in the month of September. It is held on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, when the moon is at its fullest and brightest. In ancient China, it was the celebration of a bountiful harvest in the middle of autumn

Many romantic legends surround this festival. One tale tells of how the Chinese succeeded in overthrowing the Yuan dynasty through a series of secret messages tucked into round, sweet pastries made of flour, oil and lotus seed - mooncakes. Another legend has it that the moon became the final abode of the legendary Chang Er and her pet rabbit - and on a clear night, one might just see them!

Today, these legends live on in the eating of mooncakes - they come in many different varieties now, even "mocha cream" - and the lighting of lanterns. On the night of the festival, children light up brightly-coloured lanterns in the shape of fishes, squirrels or butterflies (the more enterprising have Hello Kitty) and many corners in the suburbs become a regular fairyland of lights.

In the streets of Chinatown, the stalls are stocked with mooncakes and other tidbits, and events such as bonsai competitions and tea-making demonstrations. This is also the ideal time to go for an evening stroll in the Chinese Gardens in Jurong - hundreds of Chinese lanterns adorn the park, making for a very pretty sight indeed.

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Mooncake Festival

Mooncake Festival (also known as Moon Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, Chinese Lantern Festival or Zhongqiu Festival) is a traditional harvest festival observed by Chinese and Chinese descendants in many countries. The festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month according to Chinese lunar calendar. Thus, the date of Mooncake Festival in Gregorian (Western) calendar varies from year to year although it usually falls between September and early October which is close to the autumnal equinox.

Mooncake Festival 2013 falls on Thursday, 19 September 2013. China, Macau, and Taiwan observe the date of Mooncake Festival as a public holiday while Hong Kong celebrates the day following Mooncake Festival as its public holiday. Therefore, the official Mooncake Festival holiday 2013 in Hong Kong falls on Friday, 20 September 2013.



Mooncakes are sweet round pastries stuffed with thick filling of lotus seeds paste. The size of these pastries is about 10 cm in diameters and 4-5 cm thick. Chinese people have a tradition of eating Mooncakes to celebrate Mooncake Festival. These Chinese traditional pastries are usually served with a cup of Chinese tea. People used to make Mooncakes at home, but recently, most people prefer buying Mooncakes at markets or bakeries to baking them themselves.


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Mooncake Festival in Singapore

In Singapore, celebrations of the Mooncake festival is concentrated on the Chinatown Mid-Autumn Festival. From September to October, Chinatown?the beating heart of the Chinese in Singapore?is transformed into an extravaganza of shimmering lights, themed lanterns, street bazaars, and stage shows, all to pay homage to a festival that reaches back into the very roots of Chinese culture.

Visitors can join the rest of Singapore in witnessing the official light-up and opening ceremony. Chinatown will be enhanced with radiant festive lights and glimmering lanterns lining the streets, a display that will continue for weeks. You can also pick up a lantern for yourself at the street bazaar ?ranging from the traditional paper-and-candles type to plastic varieties modeled after cartoon characters.



With a lantern in hand, join in the mass lantern walk, which promises to turn the streets into a dazzling procession of lights. The street bazaar also offers a multitude of traditional goodies like pomelos, Chinese tea, and most of all, mooncakes.

For the culinary adventurous and budding gourmands, sample scrumptious mooncakes (a rectangular box or circle shape thick pastry dough filled with yummy ingredients) in traditional flavours like lotus and egg yolk or exotic varieties like durian, chocolate, coffee and ice-cream.

Staged shows will also be performed every night during the lantern festival, and remember to make way for dragon dancers offstage as they weave their way through a season of reunion and revelry.

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Once in a Mid-Autumn Festival Full Moon

Only traditional mooncakes with lotus seed or bean paste fillings were available in the 1980s. Image courtesy of Ministry of Information and the Arts (MITA).
Only mooncakes with traditional fillings like lotus seed or bean paste were available in the 80s Image by MITA
Battery-operated lanterns have already gained ground on popularity with the children in the 1980s. Image courtesy of Ministry of Information and the Arts (MITA).
Battery-operated lanterns have already gained ground on popularity with children in the 80s Image by MITA
A riot of colours at a lantern stall at the Mid-Autumn Festival market in Chinatown.
A riot of colours at a lantern stall at the Mid-Autumn Festival market in Chinatown

Some occasions occur once in a blue moon. Others like the Mid-Autumn Festival transpire annually, during the supposed fullest moon of the year. The children love its lanterns while the less health-conscious adults love its mooncakes. The Mid-Autumn Festival, sometimes referred to as the Lantern Festival or the Mooncake Festival, is held on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese calendar. According to Chinese folklore, the moon is said to be at her roundest on this day.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is a thousand-year-old tradition with its origins in Chinese mythology. It is a festival synonymous with Chang Er, the Goddess of the Moon, who is thought to have flown to the moon after swallowing the elixir of eternal life. One important aspect of the Mid-Autumn Festival is moon appreciation. The moon symbolises family unity, harmony, and togetherness in Chinese culture.

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Mid-Autumn Festival



The Mid-Autumn Festival is a traditional festival celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. The moon is regarded as the brightest, the fullest and the roundest one on this day.

It is one of the most important festivals in China and on that day, all the family members will come back home no matter how far away they are. During this traditional festival, the main activities for people are to admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon and eat mooncakes.

On the night of Mid-autumn day, family members and friends will gather to admire the bright moon and eat delicious food, such as moon cakes, grapefruits, pomegranates, walnuts, etc. In some ethnic minority areas in China, varieties of activities will be held, such as “Naoyue”, which is especially popular among Miao ethnic minority (one of the ethnic minorities in China). This is a good chance for young people to look for their lovers and express their affections.

Mooncake is one of the most traditional food of this festival. It was first mentioned during the period of Southern Song Dynasty (1127~1279). It was once used as sacrificial offering for the goddess of the moon. Later, it was regarded as the symbol of reunion of one’s family and eating it on this festival became a custom. There are different mooncakes with different kinds of fillings, such as the sweetened bean paste, crystal sugar, etc. Nowadays, it is also viewed as the gifts sending to relatives and friends.

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Mooncake madness


It’s the Mid-Autumn Festival, which means celebrations and mooncakes galore. Although we won’t have a public holiday on September 19 like Hong Kong, China and Taiwan, these Singapore restaurants and hotels still give us something else to look forward to: exciting new mooncake flavours (and pretty boxes to house them in for gifts).

China Club
Hai Tien Lo
International Hotel Group
Li Bai
Sweet Spot
TWG
Xi Cuisine

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