Wonder what all those moon cakes are doing at 7-11? Here’s some info on the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival and what you can expect in Thailand, near the end of September.
Chinese Mid-Autumn Moon Festival
The Chinese Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is a celebration that takes place at the full moon of the eighth month in the Chinese Lunar Calendar. This is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox when the moon is said to be at its fullest and roundest – the so-called harvest moon. In traditional Chinese rural communities it marks the end of the harvest period when the community gathers to celebrate a time of plenty. In 2012 the festival will be held on September 30; in 2013 it will be held on September 19.
Moon Festival in Thailand
This festival is held everywhere a large Chinese community can be found, and Thailand is no exception. In Bangkok the focus of the celebrations will be along the Yaworat Road in Bangkok’s Chinatown. In Phuket it will be in the old part of Phuket Town. In Chiang Mai the place to go will be Pung Tao Gong Chinese Ancestral Temple next to Warorot Market (Kad Luang). This temple has recently had a colorful facelift, and is very photogenic.
The Chinese Moon Festival is a time for thanksgiving for the Earth抯 bounty and also a time to remember the ancestors. Every Chinese temple will be crowded during this celebration. Special offerings of incense, red candles, fruit and duck will be made at this time. Devotees often wear red _ the luckiest, most auspicious color for Chinese people. As this is a time when Chinese people celebrate their unique cultural heritage, the celebration will feature cultural displays, dances and musical performances.
Moon Cake Festival
Chinese people exchange gifts at this time of year, particularly gifts of fruit especially the pomelo (know in Thai as som-oh), and the famous moon cakes. Moon cakes are round sweet cakes filled with sesame seeds, ground lotus seeds and egg. During the Chinese Moon Festival these little cakes can be bought almost everywhere (including 7-11s throughout Thailand).
Moon Cake Legend
There is an old legend associated with the moon cake. During the rule of the Mongols the native Han Chinese rebels used moon cakes to communicate in secret with one another. Moon cakes are sold in packages of four. Each moon cake would be cut into four pieces and the sixteen segments then re-arranged so that the marks on the top crust would spell out a coded message. The cakes would then be hurriedly eaten to conceal the evidence. The story is that Han Chinese used this method to co-ordinate their successful revolt against the Mongols at the time of the harvest moon in 1368, so bringing the Ming Dynasty to power.
Enjoy the Chinese Moon Festival, and take your time over the moon cakes.