Sorry I’m a couple of days’ late into putting up this entry. (busy with work 😦 )
The Mooncake Festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th Lunar month that was last Saturday, 3rd Oct. There was this yearly mooncake festival down at Carpenter Street. Stalls lining up the street and Chinese cultural performances (this year there were also other ethnic groups performing).
Now this is the story of “mooncakes” extracted from a book by Mr Lai Kuan Fook published in 1984.
In a legend, Chue Yuen Cheong, a general of the Han people, led a movement against the Mongol regime during the last years of the Yuan Dynasty (A.D. 1206-1341). Although he failed and was down-hearted, his spirit was alive and he carried on plotting for the overthrow of the cruel Mongols.
His military adviser, Lau Pak Wan, hit on a plan which he approved. The strategy was to make use of mooncakes, which, during the festival were carried about freely and eaten in every household. Therefore, to make use of mooncakes as a means of communication would not arouse any suspicion. An order from his army was written on a slip of paper, bearing the seal of the Army Commander, stating the day, time and procedure for the people’s concerted attack. They set up their own bakery, rolled up the instruction slip with waxed paper and had it carefully inserted in each mooncake during its production.
The mooncakes were then distributed to the Han people in the capital. When the mooncakes were cut they found the slip, read the message from their army commander, secretly organised themselves and had their weapons ready. At the appointed hour, the revolutionary forces from the surrounding areas and the people from within the capital city carried out a simultaneous attack and completely surprised the Mongols.
Eventually they won and the Yuan (Mongol) Dynasty was overthrown. This marked the beginning of the Ming Dynasty.
The mooncake acquired a new significance, for it had promoted unity. Its round shape signified success and unity of the pople for they were completely liberated from Mongol rule.
When people present gifts of mooncakes to their relatives and friends, it implies that they wish them unity and peace in the family.
On this day, in every family, lanterns were bought for the children. In front of each household was laid out a table with an incense-pot and lighted joss-sticks in it. Behind this pot were placed mooncakes, groundnuts, pomeloes, melon seeds, liquor and wine – all these were offerings to the moon (the moon is also worshipped). As night arrived, the gaily dressed children would parade with their lighted lanterns in their compounds or in the nearby streets, laughing and enjoying themselves. Their parents would eat mooncakes and groundnuts, while admiring the full moon which was shining brilliantly in the clear sky. This was the time for a refreshing rest and the atmosphere of merry-making was right.
So if you want to celebrate the mooncake festival you can note down 22nd Sept 2010 and have some mooncakes, tea, lighted lanterns and family members around for merry-making 😉