Mooncakes: One of the seasonal foods of the Mid-Autumn Festivalukiosks
Mooncakes: One of the seasonal foods of the Mid-Autumn Festival
Moon cakes, also known as moon cakes, harvest cakes, reunion cakes, etc., are one of the traditional Han Chinese delicacies. Moon cakes were originally used as offerings to worship the moon god.
Sacrifice to the moon is a very ancient custom in China. It is actually an activity of worship of the “Moon God” by the ancients. Eating moon cakes and admiring the moon during the Mid-Autumn Festival are indispensable customs in the Mid-Autumn Festival in northern and southern China. Moon cakes symbolize reunion, and people regard them as festive food, using them to worship the moon and give them to relatives and friends.
Moon cakes have a long history as offerings to worship the moon god. The term mooncake was first recorded in the “Meng Liang Lu” written by Wu Zimu in the Southern Song Dynasty. Mooncakes have been integrated with the dietary customs of various places, and have developed into Cantonese-style, Jin-style, Beijing-style, Soviet-style, Chaozhou-style, Yunnan-style mooncakes, etc., which are loved by people from all over the north and south of China.
Sacrifice to the moon is a very ancient custom in China. Moon cakes are an offering to worship the moon god during the Mid-Autumn Festival in ancient times, and they are also a seasonal food during the Mid-Autumn Festival. In ancient times, moon worship was held every Mid-Autumn Festival night. Set up a large incense table and place mooncakes, fruits and other offerings. Under the moon, the moon statue is placed in the direction of the moon, with red candles burning high. The whole family worships the moon in turn, and then the housewife cuts the reunion moon cakes.
Moon cakes have a long history as offerings to worship the moon god. The word “mooncake” was first included in the extant literature in “Mengliang Lu” written by Wu Zimu in the Southern Song Dynasty. Appreciating the moon and eating moon cakes during the Mid-Autumn Festival are essential customs for celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival in various parts of China. As the saying goes: “August and fifteenth are full, and the Mid-Autumn moon cakes are fragrant and sweet.”
The dietary customs of the Mid-Autumn Festival on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month of the Han people. Su Dongpo, a great poet of the Song Dynasty, praised moon cakes in a poem: “Small cakes are like chewing the moon, with crispy and sweet fillings in them.” From this, we can see that moon cakes in the Song Dynasty were filled with butter and sugar.
By the Ming Dynasty, the custom of eating mooncakes during the Mid-Autumn Festival became more common.
“Miscellaneous Notes of Wanshu” written by Shen Bang of the Ming Dynasty records: “The furniture of the common people and the common people are made of mooncakes made of mooncakes, ranging in size, and they are called mooncakes.” “Zhuizhongzhi” says: “In August, begonias and hostas are appreciated in the palace. Flowers. From the first day of the Lunar New Year, there are moon cake sellers, and on the fifteenth day, every family offers moon cakes, melons and fruits. If there are any leftover moon cakes, they are collected in a dry and cool place and distributed at the end of the year. They are called reunion cakes. also.”
After the Yuan and Ming dynasties, the custom of eating mooncakes and giving mooncakes as gifts during the Mid-Autumn Festival became increasingly popular, and mooncakes had the symbolic meaning of “reunion”. From the Qing Dynasty to modern times, mooncakes have experienced new developments in quality and variety. Differences in raw materials, preparation methods, shapes, etc. make mooncakes more colorful, forming distinctive varieties such as Beijing style, Soviet style, and Cantonese style. Mooncakes are not only a unique holiday food, but also a popular pastry for all seasons.
The word mooncake first appeared in Wu Zimu’s “Meng Liang Lu” in the Southern Song Dynasty.
At that time, it was just a snack food. Later, people gradually combined moon appreciation with moon cakes, which symbolized family reunion and expressed their longing for each other. At the same time, mooncakes are also an important gift used to connect friends during the Mid-Autumn Festival. The mooncakes at that time were rhombus-shaped, existing at the same time as chrysanthemum cakes, plum blossom cakes, five-nut cakes, etc., and they were “available at all times, and can be requested at any time without missing a customer.” It can be seen that mooncakes at this time are not only eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival. As for the origin of the term mooncake, there is no way to verify it.
However, Su Dongpo, a famous scholar in the Northern Song Dynasty, left a poem that said, “Small cakes are like chewing the moon, with crisp and glutinous rice in them.” Perhaps this is the origin of the name of moon cakes and the basis for the making of moon cakes.
There are a lot of records about moon cakes since the Ming Dynasty. The moon cakes at this time were already round and were only eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival. They were the main offerings during the Mid-Autumn Festival that became popular among the people from the Ming Dynasty onwards. “A Brief Introduction to the Scenery of the Imperial Capital” says: “If you offer sacrifices to the moon on August 15th, the fruit cakes must be round.” “If a household sets the moonlight in the direction of the moon, and worships towards the moon, the moonlight paper will be burned, the offerings will be removed, and the family will disperse. It must be everywhere. Moon cakes and fruits are given to each other by relatives and relatives. The cake is two feet in diameter.
Mooncakes symbolize reunion, and they should have been recorded in writing since the Ming Dynasty. If we look at the information about moon cakes and Mid-Autumn Festival folk customs from the Ming Dynasty, we should be able to see the historical trajectory of moon cakes meaning reunion: after worshiping the moon during the Mid-Autumn Festival, the whole family would sit around and share moon cakes and fruits (moon offerings). Because moon cakes are also round and shared by the whole family, moon cakes have gradually come to represent family reunion. In some places in Guangdong, there is a custom of worshiping the moon during the Mid-Autumn Festival, mainly for women and children.
There is a proverb that “men do not worship the full moon, women do not worship the stove”. Folk customs during the Mid-Autumn Festival are also diverse in areas south of the Yangtze River. Nanjing people love to eat mooncakes during the Mid-Autumn Festival, and must also eat Jinling’s famous dish of osmanthus duck with the fire dragon. During the Mid-Autumn Festival, people in Sichuan Province not only eat moon cakes, but also make glutinous rice cakes, kill ducks, and eat sesame cakes, honey cakes, etc.