Wisdom Wednesdays: Mooncakes
We are excited to introduce a new blog series called “Wisdom Wednesdays” in which guest bloggers list three things they wish they had known about a wide variety of topics related to China, adoption, and charity. We hope our readers will find these blogs interesting and useful, and we encourage you to add your own thoughts on the topic each week if you have a piece of advice or information you would like to share. Our first Wisdom Wednesdays post tackles the timely topic of mooncakes which are a central part of the Mid-Autumn Festival — also known as the Moon Festival which celebrates the legend of Chang E, the mythical Moon Goddess of Immortality.
1) Eating mooncakes is a traditional activity for the Mid-Autumn Festival. During mooncake season in China, huge portions of groceries and stores are cleared out and dedicated to mooncake sales. Picture the holiday display area of Target or WalMart; now double that and you get a sense of how much of just one store is set aside to sell mooncakes! Mooncakes are commonly given as gifts during the Mid-Autumn Festival and are sold with special matching gift bags.
2) Do not confuse mooncakes with moon pies! A mooncake has a sweet dense filling enveloped by a thin pastry shell. Traditional fillings include lotus seed paste, mung / red / green bean paste, and mixed nut paste. Contemporary mooncakes experiment with other filling flavors, including durian, coconut, taro, lychee, and pineapple. In addition, some mooncakes contain one to two salted duck egg yolks, symbolizing the moon. Some regions fill mooncakes with meats such as ham, chicken, and pork. Frozen mooncakes made out of ice cream are also available.
3) Did you know that there is a folk tale about the overthrow of Mongol rule thanks to moon cakes? Supposedly secret messages were hidden inside which coordinated the Han Chinese revolt on the 15thday of the eighth lunar month. Another method of hiding these secret messages was to print them on the surface of mooncakes as a simple mosaic. To read the encrypted message, the recipient would cut the cake into pieces and assemble the puzzle, then eat it to destroy the message!
~Tara Peltier, Orphanage Assistance Team