MEDIA ::  Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival – Chinese Thanksgiving!

Oct 1, 2017Media

The Mid-Autumn Festival in Chinese “Jung Chau Jeet” 中秋節 also known as the Moon Festival, is a holiday popular in China and Vietnam, which celebrates:

  1. Family Reunion
  2. Thankfulness / Gratitude
  3. Farmers’ Harvest

Sometimes it is called Chinese Thanksgiving!

One of the most popular folklore tale of the Moon Festival, is the story of Chang’e and Hou Yi.

The Story of Chang’e and Hou Yi

Once there were 10 suns in the sky, scorching many crops and killing many people. Archer Hou Yi shot down 9/10 of the suns, and became a well-known hero for his good deeds he performed for Earth. Awarded the Elixir of Immortality, and became a teacher of archery with many disciples training under him.

Hou Yi met a woman named Chang E, and they fell in love and were married.

Wanting to be with his wife forever, he had her save the Elixir of Immortality for them to drink together on the 15th Day of the 8th Lunar Month. But an evil disciple named Peng Meng overheard them and wanted the elixir for himself.

On the 15th day, when Hou Yi went hunting, Peng Meng went to Hou Yi’s home and forced Chang E to give him the elixir. Knowing she could not defeat him, she drank the elixir all by herself. When Hou Yi came back, he found that his wife had been lifted to Heaven as the Moon Goddess. She decided to live on the Moon because it’s closest to the Earth and her husband. Hou Yi looked up at the moon and put the foods Chang E used to love in the garden as a sacrifice.

And thus, people started admiring the moon on this day! This October 4th, on the Mid-Autumn Festival, in the harvest season – the moon is supposed to be its roundest and brightest!

Thanks to chinaculturetour.com and beijing-kids.com for the story reference!

Now we will talk about traditional foods eaten during the Moon Festival, because a harvest holiday is not complete without FOOD, right?

Mooncake

A pastry made with traditionally with lotus seed paste and egg yolk – they symbolize family reunions and best wishes. It is the most traditional and important food of the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Historically they were used to write secret messages to each other during the war in the Yuan dynasty. The hidden message was written on the piece of paper inside the cake.

Today, cake is often exchanged as a gift between family and friends during the festival to convey their best wishes. This is why they come in beautiful gift boxes!

Pomelo

Pomelo is a citrus fruit and considered one of the Mood Goddess’s favourite fruits! High in vitamin C and potassium, it’s similar to a grapefruit, except less tart and sweeter.

Pears

In Cantonese, the word for pear “lay” also means leaving/separation, which means most of the time you avoid eating pears on holidays. But, during this festival pears represent your desire for reunification and you wish to avoid separate from family over the next year. This makes it an enjoyable fruit to have during Mid-Autumn Festival, eaten with moon cake.

Lotus Root 

Lotus root is harvested in the fall, and because Mid-Autumn Festival celebrates farmer’s harvest, we eat this dish during the holiday. High in folate, fibre and phosphorus – this versatile ingredient can be prepared in several ways. Here it is stir-fried with some minced pork, spices and soy sauce.

Duck

Eating duck is popular during Mid-Autumn Festival because the taste of the duck is very rich during this season.

Roasted Pork

Roasted Pork is the most popular red meat in China, and it always shows up at large Chinese celebrations! If you at the butcher counter, you can ask for a leaner cut.

Gai Lan 芥蘭 – Chinese Broccoli

Picture

CLICK Photo for the link to recipe!
As a dietitian, I cannot go through a segment without a mention of vegetables! This is gai lan, also known as “Chinese broccoli.” High in Vitamin A, C fibre and folate – if you’re bored with broccoli I encourage you to give this a try!

CLICK the photo above to get the Recipe!

Lanterns

With the bright moon in the sky, lanterns are fun to make for kids and make the night even more beautiful. The glowing colours light up and add colour to the dark night.

A Holiday with Health in Mind…

Most of the important themes of Mid-Autumn Festival (family reunion, gratitude and harvest), encourages healthy behaviours backed up by scientific evidence. Research has shown the importance of family meals and social behaviour that increases social engagement, therefore decreasing loneliness and encourages good mental health. Another one is gratitude. Harvard Health says, Expressing thanks may be one of the simplest ways to feel better. Thanksgiving whether Chinese or other, encourages us to be thankful therefore increases our overall well-being.

References

Mid-Autumn Festival from chinahighlights.com
Top 10 Mid-Autumn Festival Foods in China from www.globaltimes.cn.
Why are. pomelo fruits eaten during Moon Festival? from asianinspirations.com

Watch the interview below on The Mid-Autumn Festival

 

Meet Michelle

Welcome, I'm Michelle! I'm a TV and digital media registered dietitian and Asian cuisine content creator based out of Hamilton, ON Canada!

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